CLOSE ELECTION PREDICTED Hoping for fourth time lucky
She’s poised and ready to strike in an election year. National’s Hekia Parata, the Minister of Education, confirmed her decision to stand in the Mana electorate two weeks ago. Ms Parata said she was looking forward to having her fourth punt at winning the traditional Labour seat.
She lost by more than 6000 votes to Winnie Laban in 2008, by 1406 votes to Kris Faafoi in the 2010 by-election after Ms Laban resigned, and by 1857 votes in the 2011 election.
Ms Parata said she wasn’t tempted to follow the lead of other high-profile National MPs and, for the sake of her busy portfolio, go on the list for the election. She is ranked seventh at the moment.
‘‘Education is a challenging portfolio and there has been a lot of bumpiness, but we’re beyond that now,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m committed to Mana and we will run an election campaign here that is spirited and serious.’’
Ms Parata pointed to her strong showing in the electorate since 2010.
Her profile and popularity seems to have turned the party vote around. A 2500-vote Labour majority in 2011 swung to a National majority of 755 three years later. Parata said she believed her party could build on that lead.
‘‘Voters in Mana want an MP who is accessible and visible, and proving I can be that will make the difference on polling day,’’ she said.
Ms Parata said the number of people contacting her electorate office in Porirua would be the equal of those contacting Mr Faafoi’s.
‘‘It’s tough. Kris can devote time and attention to Mana, which is great and it’s what people are entitled to.
‘‘But there are 2600 schools and 5000 early childhood education centres in New Zealand and every Friday I’m at one of them and visiting others on other occasions as well.
‘‘So it comes down to managing your time well. Mana is an amazing electorate, one of the most diverse in the country, and they deserve my attention. I will give it.’’
Ms Parata – like Mr Faafoi – said it will be a close election.
She confidently believed the strongperforming economy and positive moves in health, law and order and education would give her party a third successive term.
She said National had a track record of fresh ideas and would look to continue that theme under John Key’s leadership.
In Mana, all those national issues would matter to voters, but she said leadership on infrastructure like Transmission Gully and the Kapiti Expressway, and representing her constituents on everything from housing to the potential super-city, were what counted.
‘‘I love this job and I’m lucky to be doing it. My enthusiasm has tripled [since entering Parliament in 2008] and the country is in a good space.
‘‘It’s exciting to be a part of this Government and I’m looking forward to another term.’’
Ready: Hekia Parata is looking to a hectic 2014 as her education portfolio and a desire to become the MP for Mana grab her attention.