|63rd Minister of Customs|
26 October 2017 – 30 August 2018
|Prime Minister||Jacinda Ardern|
|Preceded by||Tim Macindoe|
|Succeeded by||Kris Faafoi|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament|
|Assumed office |
29 June 2013
|Preceded by||Parekura Horomia|
|Born||11 January 1965|
Melissa Heni Mekameka Whaitiri (born 11 January 1965) is a politician of the Labour Party and a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives for the Maori electorate of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Having previously worked in senior advisory and management roles, she won the 2013 Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election, succeeding Labour's Parekura Horomia, and has gone on to hold the seat in the 2014 and 2017 general elections.
Whaitiri was born in Manutuke near Gisborne in 1965, and brought up in the Hastings suburb of Whakatu by a whānau of mostly freezing workers. She has affiliation to Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Kahungunu. At Karamu High School, she was head girl.
She first worked at a freezing works herself before obtaining a master's degree in education from Victoria University of Wellington. In both softball and netball, she competed to national level. She was selected by the Silver Ferns as a non-travelling reserve player. Her first professional job was for Parekura Horomia, who made her wait eight hours before he saw her, but then hired her immediately for the Department of Labour.
She was a negotiator for Rongowhakaata's treaty settlement. From 2007 to 2009, she was a senior adviser for the Minister of Māori Affairs Office, and thus advised Hon Parekura Horomia while he was the Minister. Since 2009, she has been the chief executive officer of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi.
Member of Parliament
|New Zealand Parliament|
Horomia's death on 29 April 2013 triggered a by-election which was held on 29 June of that year. Most political analysts predicted that Labour would hold Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, which since its inception for the 1999 election was held by Horomia, and who had a majority of 6,541 votes (29.1%) at the last election in 2011.
Before the by-election, there was media speculation that Labour Leader David Shearer had been put on notice and a decisive win in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti was regarded as important for his survival. Right-wing political blogger David Farrar called it a "good victory for Labour", and commented that Whaitiri "could be one of the better Labour MPs".
With 12,274 votes helping her hold the seat in 2017, Whaitiri returned to Parliament and was appointed Minister of Customs following Labour's formation of a coalition government with New Zealand First and the Greens. She also serves as Associate Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Local Government and Crown/Māori Relations.
Alongside colleague, Willie Jackson, she is Co-Chair of the Labour Māori Caucus.
On 30 August 2018, Whaitiri had to “stand aside” from her ministerial portfolios as part of an investigation into an allegation that she assaulted a staff member in her ministerial office. Fellow Labour MP Kris Faafoi assumed the role of Minister of Customs while her associate ministerial portfolios were assumed by their lead ministers.
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- "Who's in? Who's out?". Radio NZ. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- "Ministerial List". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- "Hon Meka Whaitiri". New Zealand Labour Party. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
- "Hon Mek Whaitiri". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- "Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri stands down from all ministerial portfolios over alleged assault on staff member". 1 News. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- Hurley, Emma; Lynch, Jenna (30 August 2018). "PM Jacinda Ardern accepts Govt Minister Meka Whaitiri's offer to stand aside". Newshub. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- "Labour MP stands down amid assault allegation". Radio New Zealand. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
|New Zealand Parliament|
| Member of Parliament for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
| Minister of Customs