Whakatau 2023 | Te Tai Tokerau

Davis endorses Lyndon and Kapa-Kingi as coalition partners

It was a rather respectful battle for Te Tai Tokerau at the Whakatau 2023 debate between the electorate’s three candidates Mariameno Kapa-Kingi (Te Pāti Māori), Hūhana Lyndon (Green Party) and current king Kelvin Davis (Labour). tonight

In fact, it may have been more of a friendly conversation to hopefully transpire into a happy coalition come October 14 - with just a couple of digs between Davis and Kapa-Kingi.

Cost of living - or cost of dying?

While the cost of living is the electorate’s top issue at 34%, according to the latest Curia Market Research Poll, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi has dubbed it the “cost of dying”.

“When we say cost of living, we’re assuming that that’s a reality for Māori, that they’ve got a livelihood, that they’ve got enough to exist on a day-to-day basis, and they absolutely do not.

“We’re living dead, existing on our whenua with never enough.

“I’ve worked for more than 35 years in the field with whānau in their homes and their communities. It is the cost of dying. I want to make that point and describe it that way.”

Lyndon was not surprised environmental issues weren’t high up on the issues list, and that whānau were more concerned with what the challenges were right in front.

“How can you worry about tomorrow when, today, it’s difficult to live?” she said.

Will Te Tai Tokerau be held by a wahine for the first time?

The region has produced many wāhine toa in its time, yet the electorate has always been held by men.

That could change, albeit needing a swing, with Kelvin Davis at 32% and Mariameno Kapa-Kingi at 26% as the region’s preferred candidate.

Hūhana Lyndon came in at 7%, followed by Maki Herbert of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Davis acknowledged the women who have held other electorates such as Nanaia Mahuta and Meka Whaitiri, saying that the worldviews have changed the political landscape.

“I represent the party that went for 50/50 (men/women) representation in this Parliament. We achieved that, 50% of the Parliament was female for the first time in our history. I think that’s something that really needed to be celebrated.”

Kapa-Kingi embraced the idea that the first female MP for Te Tai Tokerau could be sitting at the debate table, and says Te Pāti Māori’s policies value “wahine people”.

Newcomer Lyndon is hoping to be the face that wāhine -and tāne - can vote for.

“[Men] have a particular ilk that they like to mix and mingle with, the bros but certainly we’re wives of the bros and we’re those who are there to support our tāne.

“We’re no different from the man at the netball courts or the man at waka ama.

“I respect my elders, my matua here, because they have a strength and example to show that as wāhine and tāne we can be on the campaign trail as equals.”

‘If National win, Māori lose’

A vehement quote Davis said multiple times in the debate: “If National win, Māori lose.”

Clearly not a fan of a National/ACT coalition government, he instead endorsed his rivals to be voted for as coalition partners.

“The only way to prevent a National/ACT led government is for the parties represented around this table to get 51% of the party vote collectively.”

Talking about his justice ministerial portfolio, Davis said, “As a government, we have found ways to prevent Māori from getting into trouble, breaking the law, and making sure they’ve got the pūtea and resources so that they don’t get into trouble.

“These guys [ACT], their first remedy is to build more prisons and to throw more people into American-style mega prisons.”

Lyndon chimed in, echoing her rival’s comments.

“There’s a lot of progress being made, Taitamariki courts, the Matariki courts. We’re at potential risk if all we’re going to do is build more prisons and lock up our people.”

Kapa-Kingi, somewhat, echoed it too though not without taking a dig at Davis’ party.

“Te Tai Tokerau is a poverty in paradise. Only the very rich and wealthy are fine, it’s ‘let them eat cake’ life. For us, don’t eat the cake, barely eat the crumbs on the table, even under the current government that we’re dealing with now.

“Much, much, much more to do. Much more fighting. Better policies that relate and sound like us.”

Listing the achievements for Māori under the Labour government, Davis also says those were at risk if the government changes.

“Mariameno says that’s what [Te Pāti Māori] campaigned about, [but] that’s what the Labour Party implemented.”

Kapa-Kingi responded with a confident “You’re welcome.”

The battle may be even closer come October 14, but Davis is still the favourite for now.

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