Tire­less MP ready for up­hill battle

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.’’

Photo: SI­MON HOYLE

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.

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