Whakatau 2023 | Tāmaki Makaurau

Tāmaki Makaurau may gain three MPs after the election

Whatever happens on Election Day, Peeni Henare remains committed to Tāmaki Makaurau.

As has been the case after previous elections, particularly after the governing party is dumped, many high-profile and long-serving MPs and ministers opt to retire from Parliament. However, when asked by commentator Dr Lara Greaves on Whakaata Maori’s WHAKATAU 2023 programme, Henare said he would remain committed to Tāmaki Makaurau as its MP for the duration of the term.

“Ko Tāmaki Makaurau tōku kainga. I live here, my whānau are here, so the answer is yes.”

Henare, in his fourth campaign for the seat for Labour, has a 10 percentage point lead over his nearest rival, Takutai Kemp of Te Pāti Māori according to a Whakaata Māori-Curia Market Research poll. But with 11 percent of respondents undecided, the race for the seat is wide open four days out from election day.

“I’m humbled by the results. I truly am. And it’s been a great honour and privilege to be the MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, and to serve as a minister. I hope my track record speaks for itself and I do get the opportunity. I think we’re progressing to where our people aspire to be.”

Even if he loses the race to the seat, Henare can still return to parliament, via the Labour list. Greens candidate, Darleen Tana who is ranked 13th on its list, smells an opportunity for Tāmaki Makaurau to have multiple MPs if results fall the right way.

“I believe Māori are savvy. We could actually get three for the price of one in the sense of Peeni [is] pretty high on the list at No. 14. Ko ahau with the party vote Green - remember, it’s enough for Darlene, and Takutai as well.”

Te Hau, sitting at 38 on the National party list could also enter Parliament if the Christopher Luxon-led party gains enough party votes.

Rangatahi key to victory

As candidates in the six previous debates on Whakaata Māori did, the four vying for the Tāmaki Makaurau each agreed enticing rangatahi to the polls could be the difference between winning and losing. They also all agreed putting money back into the pockets of voters was the answer. What they couldn’t agree on though was how to best do it.

Kemp said Te Pāti Māori’s GST policy, which includes removing GST from food would be a good start.

“You can’t always eat noodles all day. They want more, they desire and aspire for more and that’s what they’re asking for. They’re actually asking to be able to pay their bills, so that so they can continue to stay in education, because it’s just too hard.”

Tana said the Greens’ proposed universal basic income, giving everybody a minimum of $385 a week, and tax relief on the first $10,000 of income was the answer.

“I think we need to start having that conversation [about wealth tax] across the country about the real inequalities. Let’s be clear, Labour’s not going to be able to backtrack and save face right now on Chris Hipkins’ statement around wealth tax but a party vote Green means that we’ll get more Green MPs into Parliament and we can force Labour to make that change.”

Henare said providing opportunities for rangatahi to earn more money was the right way to go.

“If we focus on young people, it is about opportunities. We’ve already been clear with our apprenticeship boost kaupapa. That has seen a quarter of a million New Zealanders actually access an amazing opportunity. It gives them more choices, it puts them into another league of earning where we want our people to be.”

Is the election all or nothing for Māori?

Darleen Tana said the gains achieved for Māori under Labour, with the support of the Greens and Te Pāti Māori stood to be undone if National ACT and potentially NZ First were elected to government.

“And that’s a very frightening prospect. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is under threat. The health aspects are under threat. We’ve just heard about justice. This is under threat. So I’m looking at again, two pathways, what’s the best pathway for our people?”

ACT has said a referendum on the principles of Te Tiriti will be a bottom line for the party in any post-election coalition discussions. Hinurewa Te Hau said talk of a referendum, or the Treaty being dismissed was scaremongering and wouldn’t happen under National.

“Christopher Luxon has been quite clear, we will not do a referendum on it whatsoever. And also too, you’ve got to remember that in this election we will have six Maori standing in general seats, plus you’ve got two Māori standing in Māori seats for the first time for National [in 20 years]. So our responsibility when we get in there, certainly for the Māori candidates is to ensure that the things that we’re talking about for Māori actually happen.”

Despite being well behind in most of the polls so far this election, Henare was confident Labour could still pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

“In order for Labour to lead the next government with my colleagues sitting here, we need to turn approximately 90,000 votes in this country towards the left. And that’s achievable. It really is achievable. If I think about the last seven days as the Labour machine has been gearing up, we’ve made thousands and thousands of contacts on doorsteps and on the phone. We must continue to do that. We have four more days to convince whānau, and I’m sure we’re going to give it everything.”

Public Interest Journalism