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National’s new lesbian MP

Wed 29 May 2013 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

Claudette Hauiti has replaced the disgraced Aaron Gilmore in Parliament, becoming the National Party’s first-ever openly-lesbian (rather than outed by the media) candidate to enter Parliament.* While she’s not talking yet, we already know a little about the broadcaster-turned-politician, who was sworn in today. A Mt Albert mum of three, civil union partner, businesswoman, TV producer and Anglican of Ngāti Porou and Ngā Puhi descent, Hauiti is best known for her broadcasting and production roles in Maori and Pasifika media, and established Front of the Box Productions, which includes the Takataapui programme in its honour roll. She hosts Tuesday Night Talkback on Radio Waatea, is deputy chair of MOTAT, and is a former primary school teacher. She stood unsuccessfully as National Party Candidate for Mangere at the 2011 General Election, after a failed bid in the Auckland local body elections. Hauiti has worked with many in the GLBT community through the years and has won admirers for her ballsy ‘get things done’ style. Some who have worked with her say she was a tough boss, and not somebody you would want to cross. While she hasn’t turned heads in the past speaking at GLBT events, Hauiti was on fire and put up a strong and hilarious case as part of the ‘right’ team at the Great Auckland Pride Debate earlier this year. She argued that marriage was a Maori notion, “we invented it,” she claimed, jokingly. Hauti enjoyed a dazzling civil union with her partner Nadine Hauiti-Mau which was shown on Takataapui. They walked down a rainbow-carpet covered aisle in an event which fused tikanga Maori with drag queens and a choreographed wedding dance. "We're doing a civil union now because it’s there," Hauiti told us at the time. "I'm not sure when we are going to get full legal recognition, but this is as good as it gets today so I'm going to take full advantage of it today. So many people have worked really hard to get it to this point. "Every couple that goes through a civil service is also celebrating the really hard efforts for those who have worked their asses off to come up to this point. "And we know that while it may not suit everyone… and while it may not be as legally binding as heterosexual weddings, it's good today." The couple are proud mums of three children: daughter Manawa Hauiti-Mau and sons Kiamana Keepa-Mau and Te Ua Keepa-Mau. Hauiti has even been writing a children’s book Manawa has two Mummies based on her daughter, who is now five. Hauiti has always been straight up about how she feels on GLBT issues and can be expected to be another strong gay voice in Parliament. She’s ripped into homophobic schlock jock John Tamihere in the past for his attack on an AIDS Foundation campaign targeting gay Maori men, describing his comments as arrogant and ignorant. In her blog ‘Ms Maori’ she’s spoken about how she and Nadine were affected by the ‘Adoption Act’, describing it as “an outdated, discriminatory Act that breaches the Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”: “We have a beautiful little girl Manawa, a whangai given to us at her birth by Nadine’s sister and her partner. Now 15 months old, our little bundle was named in recognition of the generosity and purity of kindness shown to us by her birth Mummy and Daddy. Such an overwhelmingly loving and unselfish an act any human could give others to express their love. “Even though Nadine and I are married under Civil Union, it means nothing because we are lesbian. We are not recognised as a couple under this current Adoption Law and therefore only one of us can adopt Manawa.” Hauiti adds: “It’s crucial that this law is repealed on many levels,” and she has congratulated Green MP Kevin Hague on his adoption Bill which is in the ballot. “As far as being a unit; we are a non-smoking, non-drinking whanau a decision Nadine and I made to ensure the kids are brought up in a clean, positive and optimistic environment,” Hauiti adds in the blog. “We are good parents, we don’t smack or bash the kids, and we don’t swing them on the clothesline or spin them in the drier. Nadine and I go to parent teacher hui, Nadine goes on class trips and she coaches their sport teams. We are good parents.” When she stood for Parliament last year, Hauiti told us she was a predominantly business-minded candidate who is passionate about lifting people out of poverty and away from benefit dependency. She is also passionate about working against bullying in schools, "including of takataapui which the National Party finds particularly abhorrent," she said, adding "Many of our whanau who are welfare-dependant and have been for consecutive generations are very vulnerable. Tackling the needs of children, including those in poverty, requires a whole of government approach." In other titbits, Hauiti’s favourite films are Toy Story, Transformers and Star Trek, her favourite book is Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera and some of her favourite musicians are Hinewehi Mohi and Whirimako Black. Hauiti is scheduled to give her maiden speech in two weeks’ time, in the meantime she has been uncharacteristically quiet on social media, other than the sweet message to her family from Wellington: “To my beautiful wife and wonderful children your love renders me breathless thank you for loving me!” [* Editor's note: Marilyn Waring was not widely known to be lesbian when was voted into Parliament by the rural Raglan electorate in 1975. She served nine years with distinction as a National MP during which time she was outed by Truth newspaper.] staff - 29th May 2013    

Credit: staff

First published: Wednesday, 29th May 2013 - 2:25pm

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