Open main menu

Koro Tainui Wētere CBE (22 June 1935 – 23 June 2018) was a New Zealand politician. He was an MP from 1969 to 1996, representing the Labour Party.[1] He served as Minister of Māori Affairs in the Fourth Labour Government (1984–1990).[2]

Koro Wētere

Koro Wetere.tiff
34th Minister of Māori Affairs
In office
26 July 1984 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Geoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byBen Couch
Succeeded byWinston Peters
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Western Maori
In office
1969 – 1996
Preceded byIriaka Matiu Ratana
Personal details
Koro Tainui Wētere

(1935-06-22)22 June 1935
Oparure, New Zealand
Died23 June 2018(2018-06-23) (aged 83)
Te Kuiti, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Nedracita Takuora Edwards (m. 1960)
RelativesNanaia Mahuta (niece)[1]

Early life and familyEdit

Born at Oparure, near Te Kuiti, on 22 June 1935, Wētere was the son of Weo Maruatara Wētere and Te Aorangi Wētere (née Eketone),[3] and affiliated to the Ngāti Maniapoto iwi. He was educated at Te Kuiti High School and Massey University,[3] and was ordained a minister (āpotoro rēhita or registered apostle) of the Rātana Church, serving as parish minister for Oparure, Te Kuiti and Piopio in the 1960s.

In 1960, Wētere married Nedracita Takuora Edwards, and the couple went on to have five children.[3]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1969–1972 36th Western Maori Labour
1972–1975 37th Western Maori Labour
1975–1978 38th Western Maori Labour
1978–1981 39th Western Maori Labour
1981–1984 40th Western Maori Labour
1984–1987 41st Western Maori Labour
1987–1990 42nd Western Maori Labour
1990–1993 43rd Western Maori Labour
1993–1996 44th Western Maori Labour

Wētere joined the Labour Party in 1957,[3] and was first elected to Parliament in the 1969 election as MP for the Western Maori electorate, one of the four Māori electorates in New Zealand's House of Representatives. Given Labour's traditional dominance in the Māori electorates, Wētere held his position without difficulty until his retirement at the 1996 election.

Cabinet ministerEdit

Wētere became Minister of Māori Affairs when the Labour Party won the 1984 election, serving in that role until 1990. He also served as Minister of Lands, Minister of Forests, and the Minister in charge of the Valuation Department between 1984 and 1987, and the Minister in charge of the Iwi Transition Agency between 1989 and 1990.[3]

Wētere was criticised during the Māori loan affair of 1985-86, and was nearly asked to resign. Tamati Reedy the head of Wētere's department Te Puni Kokiri attempted to arrange an unauthorised overseas loan for Māori businesses. Wētere was the subject of strong attacks over the issue by National Party MP Winston Peters, but denied any wrongdoing. When Labour lost power in the 1990 election, Wētere returned to opposition for two terms before retiring from politics.

In 1990 Wētere refused to translate his addresses to parliament into English, having given them in Māori. This was one of a number of steps which pushed the issue of the use of Māori in public life during this time. There are now arrangements for simultaneous interpretation between English and Māori in Parliament.[4]


Wētere was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, and the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[5] In the 1996 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to the Māori people.[6]

The University of Waikato awarded Wētere an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the well-being and the advancement of Māori affairs in Aotearoa in 1999, and a lifetime award in 2008.[7]


Wētere died in Te Kuiti on 23 June 2018, one day after his 83rd birthday.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Low profile but leading". The New Zealand Herald. 26 November 1999. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  2. ^ Gardiner, James; Bidois, Vanessa (29 April 2000). "Wetere tipped as Tainui head". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lambert, Max, ed. (1991). Who's Who in New Zealand (12th ed.). Auckland: Reed. p. 682. ISBN 0-7900-0130-6.
  4. ^ Launch of Simultaneous Interpretation in the House
  5. ^ Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers. p. 933. ISSN 1172-9813.
  6. ^ "No. 54256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1995. p. 34.
  7. ^ "University hosts celebration of Maori academic excellence". University of Waikato. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  8. ^ Yalden, Phillipa (23 June 2018). "Former Labour minister Koro Wētere dies surrounded by family at Te Kuiti hospital". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ben Couch
Minister of Māori Affairs
Succeeded by
Winston Peters
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Iriaka Matiu Ratana
Member of Parliament for Western Maori
Constituency abolished,
replaced by Te Tai Hauauru