Voters want MP to be their advocate
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.