Tariana Turia’s announcement that she won’t stand in the 2014 election foreshadows the end of an ear for the Maori party.
It doesn’t mean the end of the party but it does pose some challenges for the organisation.
It will be difficult to find a co-leader with her mana.
It might be less difficult to find a candidate to replace her in the Te Tai Hauauru electorate but it won’t be as easy for a new candidate to hold the seat for the party.
Ms Turia began her parliamentary career in labour and resigned from the party on principle over the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. She resigned and stood in the subsequent by-election to prove she had a mandate.
Then Labour leader Helen Clark referred to the Maori party as the last cab off the rank for coalition negotiations.
John Key extended the offer a place in the National-led coalition after the 2008 election, even though he didn’t need the Maori Party’s votes for a majority.
But it gave him options and gave the party the opportunity it could achieve some of its goals in government rather than gaining headlines but making no progress in opposition.
As a small party it has had to compromise to gain some of what it wants, but it has stayed true to its principles and can point to some achievements, due in no small part to Ms Turia’s determination.
Her party will miss her.