Morgan was a tamaiti whangai, given to his maternal grandparents at the age of one week. His cousin and brother were also tamariki whangai. His NZ Maori mother and Cook Islands Maori father's relationship broke down, but he was also singled out as the successor to his grandfather, a tribal elder who transmitted his traditional knowledge to him from an early age.
He was raised near Huntly until he was five, and then they moved to Waahi Pa. The family was poor, and he had one set of clothes a year, to celebrate the anniversary of the coronation of the Kingitanga Queen, and no shoes, often living off the land. He was sent to a major Maori boarding school in 1970, then to Huntly College (high school).
After school he trained as a teacher and returned to Huntly College as head of Maori Studies, then became a television journalist. He was elected to Parliament in 1996, representing Te Tai Hauauru for the New Zealand First party. Since 1996 he has been embroiled in a series of financial scandals involving television companies and government subsidies, and lost his parliamentary seat in the November 1999 election.
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