National | Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati

Commentators critique Te Tai Tonga candidates' debate

The Te Tai Tonga Whakatau 2020 debate offered a particular surprise for one of the panellists on Wednesday night.  Adrian Wagner and Dr Maria Bargh were critiquing the Te Tai Tonga candidates on their performance.

In the first part of the debate when the candidates were questioned about the upcoming referendums, Bargh picked up on a comment made by the Greens and Labour candidates in reference to the select committee process, with Rino Tirikatene saying the select committee could not make substantial changes to the parameters that already exist in the legislation.

“We have public submissions - do those MPs listen to those public submissions?” Bargh asked.

“We have seen some key pieces of legislation come up in the past, where 90% of the people are against it and those go through. It raises some questions for me about our select committee process,” she said.

Room for Nats

After Labour, National is the next preferred party for Te Tai Tonga. National leader Judith Collins has said in recent weeks that she intends to stand candidates in the Māori electorates in future.

“Our Te Tai Tonga electorate in some areas is quite conservative,” Bargh said.

Wagner also said some in the electorate would support a National government.

Key points

In the second half the panel was impressed by Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati, saying that while she was quiet in the beginning, she had found her flow after a bumpy start.

But it was Farris who they thought was sticking to the message and getting his key party points across to combat the seasoned Labour incumbent.

The panel also commented on the number of undecided or those refusing to answer some of the Curia Research poll questions, which they suggested might be enough to upset Tirikatene 12 days out from the election.

Tirikatene's to lose

“I believe that this is a Labour safe seat and it’s for Rino to lose, you never say never,” Wagner said.

It was Tirikatene’s ‘royal’ status that the panellist thought would be his saving grace, with his family's name entrenched in the southern electorate. Barghs aid that the other candidates might not be doing so badly considering the time and resource the MP has.

“This electorate, it’s really unfair actually for candidates to get around the entire South Island and Wellington central,” Bargh said of the newer candidates

“He’s (Tirikatene) got that credit card and he can just jump on a plane,” Wagner said. Being the current MP did have its advantages.