Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

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Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a New Zealand politician and former chief executive of the Women's Refuge organisation of New Zealand. She is currently a councilor at large for the Rotorua District Council. She previously stood as a candidate for Parliament, serving briefly as deputy leader of the small Christian Heritage Party.

Early life[edit]

Raukawa-Tait was born in Feilding, New Zealand and raised a Catholic.[1] She has worked in a number of jobs, both in New Zealand and in Zurich, Switzerland. In the early 1990s she was in business in Rotorua and was a member of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for one term.[citation needed]

Her most well-known role was as chief executive of Women's Refuge, an organisation which supports women who suffer domestic violence.[2]

Political career[edit]

Merepeka Ruakawa-Tait was elected to the Rotorua District Council in 2011.[3] In 2013 Merepeka was re-elected to the Rotorua District Council [4]

Previously, in 2001, she made a high-profile bid for the mayoralty of Wellington; however, after a weak performance at a candidates' meeting and a perceived failure to articulate policies and vision for the city, her support tapered off and she eventually placed sixth.[citation needed]

Shortly before the 2002 elections, it was announced that Raukawa-Tait would be standing as a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party. This surprised many commentators, as Raukawa-Tait's previous comments did not indicate a great affinity with Christian Heritage policies — in particular, she was considered to be markedly more tolerant of homosexuality than the party. As a personal recruit of then party leader Graham Capill, Raukawa-Tait was immediately elected deputy leader of the party.[citation needed]

In the election itself, Raukawa-Tait contested the Wairarapa electorate against Labour's Georgina Beyer. Raukawa-Tait eventually placed third, winning 19% of the vote. This was the best result achieved by any Christian Heritage candidate in that election.[5] Not long after the election, however, Raukawa-Tait and Capill entered into a dispute about the election campaign. Her campaign manager, Adam Owens, alleged that Capill's management of the party's campaign was poor, with little strategy and poor advertising. Owens alleged that the party was being financially mismanaged by Capill, and that he was not a "proper person" to lead a political party. After a protracted dispute, Raukawa-Tait and the entire Wairarapa Electorate Committee resigned from the party, citing "the lack of financial accountability" and "un-Christian threats and intimidation".[6] In 2003 she reconciled with Capill, and they gave joint interviews in national newspapers saying that their falling out had been the fault of Adam Owens, and they jointly condemned him.[citation needed]

In 2003 Raukawa-Tait stood as a District Council candidate in a controversial and unsuccessful by-election campaign for the Masterton District Council. She finished last. She left Masterton after her election defeat.[1]

Life Outside politics[edit]

She worked as CEO of the West Auckland Hospice for a time, and she works as a speaker and consultant and has appeared from time to time as a panellist on the television advice show How's Life. She lives in Rotorua, works as a celebrity speaker.[7]

In 1993 she was convicted in the Rotorua District Court, under her previous name Merepeka Sims, for failing to pay her employees' PAYE tax to the Inland Revenue, a serious offence under NZ law, because she said she needed the money for her businesses. [8]