Politics | Dave Letele - Brown Buttabean

Dave Letele weighing up tilt at Parliament under Māori Party

South Auckland community leader Dave Letele has been asked by the Māori Party to stand for the Mangere electorate in the upcoming election. He brings with him a large base of ready-made voters.

Along with Letele, another prospective candidate is the former Labour MP for Manurewa, Louisa Wall, who will seek to battle Arena Williams for Manurewa. Party president John Tamihere says they would be mad not to get both.

"Both of those we would welcome because they bring significant followings and significant experience, capacity and capability."

Letele, who is Ngāti Maniapoto, has long challenged the government to do more for poor communities and he has a massive job on his hands to wrest the seat of Māngere from Labour.

Will Buttabean enter the political ring?

Frustated by lack of action

"Why politics bro? It's because I get so frustrated with what we see in our community, with the lack of support for community-based organisations from the government."

Behind the laugh, he is determined to represent Māngere where he feels that the community has been underserved when it was most needed. He says the Auckland floods showed him that while Labour talks a big game in Māngere, he thinks it rarely backs it up.

"The fact that we didn't have a civil defence evacuation centre straight away in Māngere was a disgrace."

But why the Māori Party?

"I am who I am and I speak the truth and I'm not afraid to call anyone out if it's wrong and raise awareness around issues that we face, using our profile to raise awareness for the issues that our communities face.

Time 'our own waka' stood up

"I think the Māori Party is the only one that allows me to do that."

Party president John Tamihere says gaining a general seat such as Māngere or Manurewa would be an enormous achievement for the party. He says voters in those seats might be surprised by Te Pāti Māori policy.

"We've got lots of policies that not only Māori will support but others will support also. We've been under the influence of the Endeavour waka for so long, it's about time that our own waka stood up."