National | Ikaroa-Rāwhiti

'It's about who's there for us when we step down from that ladder' - Te Au-Skipworth

Māori Party candidate Heather Te Au-Skipworth says she's not stepping away from politics but rather taking a "political pause" to spend time with her whānau.

Te Au-Skipworth withdrew her candidacy for the Tukituki general last night, just two and a half weeks after the party confirmed she will contest the general electorate.

She cites personal reasons behind her decision, though wouldn't be drawn on what those reasons were. However, she says her whānau is content with her taking time out.

"We all trial things in our lives but, for me, it's about maintaining relationships. We all climb a certain level in the ladder, and one day we all step down from that ladder and it's about who's there for us when we step down from that ladder.

"It's not all doom and gloom. I've learned so much from being inside the party, I've met thousands of beautiful people. And I feel I've been able to fit a lot of meaningful change for our whānau by having their voice heard."

Though Te Au-Skipworth is stepping away from politics for the time being, she remains committed to fighting for the same issues that first drew her in six years ago when she campaigned in the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti seat.

Turning to business

"One day I'll be able to get in there and influence politicians and Parliament [so] that we don't have to keep being aggressive and taking on each other. But it's about bringing meaningful change for our whānau because our people are dying far too early from avoidable deaths and that was the whole reason that I wanted to go in there and change legislation and also the environment [of politics].

"What does that environment do for our rangatahi, is it appealing? Do our rangatahi aspire to be in those places? At the moment I don't think they do. The way we go about politics, the media, the spin, the inciting, it has to change because, while we're all fighting each other, people are dying."

Te Au-Skipworth has also ruled out jumping ship to another party, "at this stage". She also says her commitment to her kaupapa means she will always find a way to seek change.

"I've got a beautiful team. Humbly, I'm a really well-loved person. And it's those people that I need to consider if I'm ever looking at ever standing again. But I'm not pulling out of politics. Politics doesn't just sit in Parliament. We can affect change in many places."

Te Au-Skipworth, the founder of the popular IronMāori triathlon event, says she will focus her energy on celebrating the 15th anniversary this year while also launching a new consultancy business and dedicating time to her whānau.

Public Interest Journalism