John Tamihere - Maori, Irish and Scottish descent
Brought up by a rugby league-loving labouring Māori father and a staunchly Catholic Irish-Scottish mother, JT’s parents were a hugely influential force in his life.
Born the ninth of twelve children, he was the first from his family to attend university where he graduated in 1984 with a double degree in Arts and Law from The University of Auckland.
He moved into practise, specialising in commercial law, and has designed a Māori Land Paper for the Law Faculty at The University of Auckland. He has also lectured there.
JT has participated in significant precedent setting cases - stretching all the way to the Privy Council. He has also been heavily involved in litigation in the Waitangi Tribunal, the High Court and New Zealand Court of Appeal.
All these cases have been to advance the rights of lower socio-economic groups of people.
Appointed Chief Executive Officer of Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust in 1992, JT built that organisation into a powerhouse, delivering health and social services as well as education to the West Auckland community regardless of colour, race or creed.
Elected to parliament in 1999 JT was quickly promoted to Chair Committees of the New Zealand House of Parliament and was returned in 2002. He was appointed to Cabinet as Minister of Lands; Youth Affairs; Statistics; Small Business; and Associate Minister of Māori Affairs.
JT is credited as being one of the most successful ministers of Small Business, in regard to lifting its budget and performance, along with transitioning the Ministry of Lands portfolio into the digital world. But he is particularly remembered for his work in the small business area as Minister for Small Business.
He had to single handedly defend the Labour Party’s stance in regard to the Foreshore and Seabed Legislation. The net result of this was the loss of his seat to the Māori Party in 2005.
In 2006, JT returned to the Waipareira Trust Board, and was appointed again as the Chief Executive Officer.
He has rebuilt the Trust balance sheet into a multi-million dollar operation, employing over 220 staff to a wide range of business sectors from IT through to managing health clinics.
His sharp business acumen saw him negotiate a 50/50 joint venture for the Westgate Development as a hub for a new city centre. He negotiated, and will deliver, 120 housing units in Waterview by October 2019 – ahead of time and under budget. He is also in the process and development stages of building 72 one-bedroom units for Pensioner Housing in the middle of Henderson.
JT has overseen the purchase and rapid growth of two significant IT companies to add scale to Waipareira’s Whānau Tahi Limited.
He has been a director and administrator on diverse operations, from chairing and managing his family farm – a 1300 hectare block between Waihi and Whangamata – to leading negotiations on a range of matters. He rolled out the much heralded Whānau Ora population policy across the whole of the North Island, utilising the globally acclaimed Collective Impact model, and has acted as Chair of Māori Rugby League and Māori TV.
JT is at home on a construction site or any workroom in the country. He is equally able to have a warm rapport around a board room table. JT is someone who loves engaging with Kiwis from all walks of life.