Regional | Elections

Labour polling: Te Pāti Māori ahead in two electorates

Election 2020: John Tamihere, Marama Davidson and Peeni Henare.

By Joseph Los'e, NZ Herald

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare will make a fourth run for the Tamaki Makaurau seat at the October elections.

He said while his nomination has yet to be confirmed by the Labour electorate committee, his intentions are to once again take care of business in the 'supercity'.

Henare has won the previous three Tamaki Makaurau elections and admits the last one in 2020, where he was up against Māori community leader John Tamihere (JT) - who stood for Te Pāti Māori - and Green co-Leader Marama Davidson, while "brutal", was respectful.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Labour MP for Tāmaki Makaurau Peeni Henare at Waitangi. Photo / Tania Whyte

"At the last election, Matua JT and Marama were outstanding foes, and the campaign in my view was one of respect, because our people don't want to see Māori arguing and denigrating Māori," Henare told the Herald.

“Matua JT is a formidable Māori leader and despite the result of the last election, he plays a big part in the Māori space. We don’t take anything for granted.

“Having won three terms of being the Tamaki Makaurau [MP] has not been lost on me. That’s a decade of my life.

“But this is not our first campaign and we are ready to go.”

The Herald understands Henare was initially reluctant to stand and had been plumping for the Labour list only. Discussions had got as far as looking for another possible Tamaki Makaurau candidate, possibly Willie Jackson. But with Jackson overseeing the entire Māori campaign and being an integral go-between for the Māori caucus and the rest of the party, Henare put up his hand, reluctantly.

Te Pāti Māori has nominated Manurewa Marae CEO Natasha Kemp as its candidate for Tamaki Makaurau.

Henare said it would be interesting to see who the Nats put up.

“National has indicated it will stand people in the Māori seats and I’m interested in the dynamics of the Māori seats - whether that galvanises a potential coalition of Labour-Green and Te Pāti Māori.

“I’m excited about that potential coalition. We have worked with the Greens for two terms and I think it's quite an exciting prospect to have our brother Rawiri [Waititi] and the whānau from the Māori Party involved, it will only make our Māori voice stronger.

“I think it's a good thing and an exciting prospect.”

Meanwhile, the Herald understands Labour Party internal polling of Māori electorates has Te Pāti Māori safe in the seats of Waiariki - held by Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi and also in Te Tai Hauāuru, where Waititi's co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer stood at the last election and lost narrowly to Adrian Rurawhe.

With Rurawhe opting for the Labour list only, Te Pāti Māori has the opportunity to take two - or three - electorate seats, and pull in a possible four more MPs off its list.