Maori Party to run can­di­date for Botany seat

Eastern Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - EMILY FORD

The Maori Party’s first Asian can­di­date wants to ‘‘make New Zealand great again’’.

We­tex Kang, of Chi­nese and Malay de­scent, in­voked United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s favourite catch­phrase at the party’s cam­paign launch at Ma­nurewa Marae last Satur­day.

Kang is con­test­ing the Botany seat, held by Na­tional’s Jami-Lee Ross, and says he wants vot­ers to con­sider a two-for-one deal and vote for him to bridge both par­ties. He also wants to in­tro­duce Maori war­dens to East Auck­land.

‘‘A lot of vot­ers in Botany will look at this as an ex­am­ple of a cel­e­bra­tion of di­ver­sity and bring­ing all cul­tures to­gether,’’ Kang says.

‘‘If a Chi­nese per­son can stand for the Maori Party then Pakeha can and other Asians can stand. It’s not about Maori or Chi­nese, it’s about New Zealand be­ing great again.’’

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell told the press con­fer­ence that hav­ing Chi­nese and Pa­cific can­di­dates in the party is a nat­u­ral fit.

‘‘We have come to­gether in the same waka in the ab­so­lute be­lief that we can rep­re­sent their in­ter­ests,’’ Flavell said.

‘‘Their voice has been marginalised and they have not had that space in par­lia­ment.’’

The Maori Party’s cam­paign launch was at­tended by a strong con­tin­gent of sup­port­ers, as well as the party’s 20 can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Car­rie Stod­dart-Smith, stand­ing in Paku­ranga.

Co-leader Marama Fox said the party, whose cam­paign slo­gan is Make it Maori, Make it Hap­pen, was will­ing to go into coali­tion with ei­ther Na­tional or Labour, de­spite their wari­ness of Labour’s treat­ment of Pa­cific and Maori in the past.

With the up­swing of the party’s Pa­cific and Chi­nese whanau, Fox is con­fi­dent the party will get to seven per cent of the party vote at the elec­tion.

‘‘We’ve never had more than four per cent of the party vote since our in­cep­tion but we are grow­ing, we feel the swing, and we know we can do it,’’ she said.

Ed­u­ca­tion, hous­ing, wa­ter, and econ­omy were among the party’s key pol­icy an­nounce­ments, and it’s push­ing for its own Maori and Pa­cific hous­ing min­is­ter.

Fox said the party wants a rent freeze on so­cial hous­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, with path­ways for home own­er­ship, and low in­ter­est home loans.

‘‘It's not about Maori or Chi­nese, it's about New Zealand be­ing great again.’’

PHOTOS: EMILY FORD / STUFF

The Maori Party’s gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign was launched at Ma­nurewa Marae on Au­gust 12.

We­tex Kang is the Maori Party’s first Asian can­di­date. He’s con­test­ing the Botany seat.

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