Tireless MP ready for uphill battle
Hekia Parata has more pressure on her time than ever before, but says she remains committed to the issues facing people in the Mana electorate.
The National List MP first contested the safe Labour seat in 2008, taking over from Chris Finlayson.
Opening an electorate office on Mana Esplanade and holding regular clinics, Parata has endeared herself to local voters with her can-do attitude and willingness to put in the work.
Seen as one to watch in National’s ranks, Ms Parata was rewarded with a Cabinet post in 2010 after the resignation of Pansy Wong.
Along with the Women’s and Ethnic Affairs portfolios, she has associate roles with ACC, Energy and Resources, and the Community and Voluntary sector.
‘‘I’ve had so much reading to do over the summer,’’ Ms Parata told Kapi-Mana News last week.
‘‘Don’t get me wrong, I did get a holiday, but there’s so much to get up to speed on. I was relaxed but the reading was heavy.’’
She said she has come back energised and ready for a full-on 2011.
Along with her Cabinet roles, there is a desire to stay ‘‘on the ground’’ in Mana.
She kicked off her year with a meeting attended by more than 30 people in Paekakariki to discuss the Marine and Coastal Area Bill.
‘‘All this just means I’m a busier person,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ll continue to have my Friday clinics here [in Porirua] and working plenty in the weekends. It’s about time management and there will be things I’m not able to do. But I’m committed to serving this electorate and I think people are extremely lucky to have all three of us [MP Kris Faafoi and new Porirua mayor Nick Leggett]. The voters are the ones that win.’’
There is the small matter of a general election in just over nine months too, where Ms Parata will look to continue her momentum from the Mana byelection, when she made big inroads into Labour’s numbers.
She dismisses a national newspaper’s prediction last month that Mr Faafoi would rally his troops and win back more votes on November 26, preferring to focus on the positive moves she has made.
A magazine putting her on a ‘‘hot list’’ recently was a pleasant surprise, but Ms Parata sees it as another opportunity to get Mana some national attention.
She knows her elevation within National gives her a louder voice, but it’s going to take a lot to sway local voters from red to blue, come election day.
‘‘I’m going to be going pretty hard and we’re certainly not taking anything for granted,’’ she said.
‘‘We all know this is a Labour seat – I’m going to be fighting this battle uphill.
‘‘But I can’t wait.’’
On the rise: National List MP Hekia Parata has won many Mana voters over with her confidence and initiatives like the Porirua Youth Awards. She hopes to build on that foundation in 2011.