As we head into the 2017 General Election, we thought it was timely to look back at our own Member of Parliament – Tuiti Makitanara or Sweet MacDonald as he was known. Born at Havelock, Marlborough, on 8th August 1874 Tuiti was the second child and eldest son of Teoti (George) MacDonald and Rina Puhipuhi Meihana. He is number 2 on the Rangitāne o Wairau tūpuna list.
Tuiti spent many years in the Wairau as a Native Land Agent, travelling between there and Koputaroa, in Levin. He and his wife Karaitiana, daughter of Te One McGregor had 18 children, of which only 8 survived to bear issue. They were Tutepourangi (Adam), Karaitiana Kuao (Harai), Alfred Tuiti Hapareta (Chappy), Tauia, Toki Hori (George), Rina Puhipuhi (Lena), Te Aramakau Norua (Dave), Ruanui Hamahona (Rua). He also had two other sons Hetaraka Anaru, and Puhi Te Rangiwhitikia o Te Ra MacDonald.
Tuiti first stood for Parliament at the 1925 General Election as an independent candidate for Southern Maori, finishing second, 16 votes behind the incumbent, Henare Uru. At the 1928 General Election, Tuiti once again stood for the Southern Maori seat, this time as the candidate for the United Party. He was tied in the voting with the Rātana candidate, Eruera Tirikatene, but was elected on the casting vote of the returning officer. He was re-elected in the 1931 General Election, defeating Eruera Tirikatene with a majority of 20 votes. Tragically, Tuiti died suddenly seven months later on 24th June 1932 at Hokio Beach, Levin aged only 57 years. This forced a by-election in the Southern Māori seat which Eruera Tirikatene won and so began the Tirikatene family dynasty on the Southern Maori/Te Tai Tonga seat.
Tuiti’s funeral was well documented in the media of the time. He laid in state at the whānau homestead he shared with Karaitiana at Hokio Beach, Levin. It is recorded that his 5 day tangihanga hosted politicians and rangatira from across the nation, including his South Island kin who had a strong representation. The plan was for Tuiti to be buried at Koputaroa, however, his brother Hohua (Peter) announced on the day of the funeral that he would be buried at Hokio Beach and so he was. Three months later in September 1932, Tuiti’s remains were exhumed and moved into a newly constructed hill top plot at Hokio Beach which was made using soil from Koputaroa. He was laid to rest in a concrete vault, to be joined seven years later by his wife Karaitiana.
Moe mai rā e te uri whakaheke o Tānenuiarangi, i te moenga tē whakaarahia