Vot­ers want MP to be their ad­vo­cate

Cambridge Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KATRINA TANIRAU

In March this year, Kingi Tuheitia made the rare move of en­dors­ing one of his ad­vis­ers Rahui Papa, the Ma¯ori Party can­di­date for the Hau­raki-Waikato elec­torate.

Al­though the Kı¯ngi­tanga, the Ma¯ori King move­ment, has never openly en­dorsed a po­lit­i­cal party, Tuheitia’s mother, the late Te Arik­inui Dame Te Atairangika¯hu was known to align her­self with the Labour Party.

Tuheitia called for Nanaia Mahuta, his cousin and cur­rent MP for the Hau­raki-Waikato elec­torate, to stand aside and let some­one else rep­re­sent the seat be­cause she no longer had any ‘‘mana’’ in par­lia­ment.

Mahuta has rep­re­sented the elec­torate for more than 20 years and said at the time she had never been ‘‘for­mally en­dorsed’’ by the Kı¯ngi­tanga.

How­ever, she re­fused to get in­volved in a ‘‘he said, she said’’ spat and in­stead chose to fo­cus on the pos­i­tives rather than the neg­a­tives.

Be­fore Jacinda Ardern took over as Labour Party leader, the fig­ures would have had Labour sup­port­ers and party mem­bers wor­ried.

Na­tional had so much sup­port they would have been able to gov­ern alone with no coali­tion part­ners needed.

‘‘The cam­paign gained mo­men­tum with Jacinda in­ject­ing a pos­i­tive en­ergy amongst the party mem­ber­ship. The pub­lic re­ac­tion has been warm with greater in­ter­est in what we have to say on a num­ber of is­sues,’’ Mahuta said.

‘‘Top of mind have been cost of liv­ing, hous­ing, youth is­sues (sui­cide, men­tal health, skills train­ing), the role and place of the Ki­in­gi­tanga in Party pol­i­tics. No neg­a­tives.’’

Mahuta said it was clear that vot­ers want some­one who is ac­ces­si­ble, un­der­stands the is­sues and able to sup­port lo­cal so­lu­tions, some­one able to ar­tic­u­late lo­cal chal­lenges and will ad­vo­cate for them.

Ma¯ori Party can­di­date Rahui Papa said he has en­joyed meet­ing a num­ber of dif­fer­ent peo­ple across the rohe (elec­torate).

The travel has been tax­ing, but the warmth of be­ing re­ceived has been well worth it, he said.

‘‘The sup­port has been over­whelm­ing, the hon­esty and straight talk and the high­light­ing of is­sues has been an eye opener,’’ he said.

‘‘I have spo­ken and pre­sented in soup kitchens, churches, marae, ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties, health providers, town halls, on the streets and in peo­ple’s homes where the is­sues have var­ied from place to place.’’

The neg­a­tives for Papa have been graf­fiti on bill­boards, travel and be­ing away from the wha¯nau.

‘‘Peo­ple want a strong rep­re­sen­ta­tive that ad­vo­cates for their is­sues. Top of the list is so­cial well­be­ing from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, youth is­sues, el­derly care, ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment. An­other ma­jor is­sue is en­vi­ron­men­tal and in par­tic­u­lar wa­ter and cli­mate change,’’ Papa said.

‘‘They want an hon­est ap­proach that deals with ru­ral and ur­ban is­sues. Farm­ers want se­cu­rity and cer­tainty and home­less need sup­port.’’

Left: Hau­raki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta is look­ing to re­tain the seat for Labour while her chal­lenger, Rahui Papa, right, is cam­paign­ing for the Ma¯ori Party.

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