Regional | Māori

Northland/Te Tai Tokerau hears from potential MPs

“There are so many potholes out there and I’ve driven over them so many times that I reckon I can just name some of them”.

Tūmatauenga (god of war), the name of the whare at Ōtīria Marae, would usually be an apt description for a political debate but this one was more like Rongo (god of peace) that reigned supreme at the recent debate held there.

Candidates running for both Māori and general seats in Northland came together to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the region.

Representatives from major political parties including National, NZ First, Te Pāti Māori, and The Greens, as well as independent candidates, gathered at Ōtīria Marae to talk about their plans with the community.

It was a night for the usual slogans and promises, with all candidates sticking to party scripts.

Te Pāti Māori‘s Mariameno Kapa-Kingi started with the slogan that is still gaining traction.

“It’s Aotearoa Hou, which is all about whānau needs and aspirations and our whole approach is to make sure whānau are healthy, well, inspired, engaging in their marae, engaging in their kura, engaging in things that make them feel at home.”

Four-lane highway needed

The National candidate for Northland, Grant McCallum, ran the usual line about the economy but he also made mention of the cost of living crisis. He says roading and potholes are the No.1 issue in Northland.

“There are so many potholes out there, and I’ve driven over them so many times that I reckon I can just name some of them. But all seriousness aside, for me, the economic driver for the future of Northland is connectivity with Auckland, a four-lane highway coming all the way through to the north.”

“Across the country, and Northland as well, it’s the cost of living. It’s the issue that’s most concerning for National. National is concerned about the impact that’s having on the wider population.”

Shane Jones has a big job on his hands to beat both McCallum and sitting MP Willow Jean-Prime. He says the perception that New Zealand First is anti-Māori is wrong.

“The majority of our policies will enable Māori to get ahead on their own steam.

“The fear tactics being employed by ACT to Māori can be overcome but only by voting.”

Attacked for one Māori word

However, candidate intimidation is a big issue for Māori women candidates. This follows break-ins, fence and signs damage and threatening letters toTe Pāti Māori candidate for Hauraki-Waikato, Hana-Rāwhiti Clarke-Maipi.

Northland Labour candidate Willow-Jean Prime says she has been a victim of racial attacks for simply using Māori words.

“If I speak one Māori word, I have gotten attacked. Like using the word puku.”

The Greens candidate for Te Tai Tokerau, Huhana Lyndon, has had similar experiences.

“Yes, there has been a lot of discontent towards candidates. I have been sworn at while speaking Māori.”