The Western Maori electorate extended from South Auckland and the Waikato to Taranaki and the Manawatu. The seat originally went to Wellington. With MMP it was replaced by the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate in 1996.
The first member of parliament for Western Maori from 1868 was Mete Paetahi. At the nomination meeting in Wanganui, held at the Courthouse, Paetahi was the only candidate proposed. He was thus elected unopposed. He represented the electorate of Western Maori from 1868 to 1870. He contested the electorate again at the 1871 general election, but of the three candidates, he came last. He was defeated by Wiremu Parata, with Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui in second place.
From the 1890s to the 1930s the seat was held by various Reform Party MPs. In 1935, Toko Ratana the eldest son of the founder of the Ratana Church won the seat and became the second Ratana MP; he became a Labour MP following the Labour-Ratana pact. From this point until the abolition of the seat prior to the 1996 election the seat was held by Labour MPs.
Toko Ratana died in 1944 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Matiu Rātana. He died in 1949 shortly before the 1949 general election. His wife Iriaka Matiu Ratana stood in his stead, despite significant opposition from those supporting traditional leadership roles, with Te Puea Herangi speaking out against her claim to "captain the Tainui canoe". Only the strong backing of the Rātana church and her threat to stand as a Rātana Independent secured her the Labour Party nomination. She became the first woman Maori MP, getting a similar majority (6317) to her husband in 1946 (his majority then was 6491), but no less than seven independent candidates (and one Kauhananui candidate, K Nutana) stood against her; they got 116 to 326 votes each.
Note that the affiliation of many early candidates is not known. There is contradictory information about the affiliation of Henare Kaihau. In Wilson's New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984, the authoritative work covering parliamentary history, Kaihau is listed as a Reform Party supporter from the party's inception in 1908. Kaihau does, however, appear on a poster of the Liberal Party in 1910.The New Zealand Herald, in its 1905 election reporting, also lists him as a government supporter, i.e. a Liberal.
^Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946-1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. p. 402. ISBN0-475-11200-8.