CLOSE ELEC­TION PRE­DICTED Hop­ing for fourth time lucky

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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