Patrick Gower has the inside running on Parekura Horomia’s likely successor:
The kaumatua and legend Parekura Horomia is considering standing down from Ikaroa-Rawhiti. He'll come back to Parliament on the list.
Meka Whaitiri is one of the potential candidates being talked up to put her name forward. She is chief executive for Ngati Kahungunu Iwi... She's got over a quarter of a century experience in the public sector, including working in the office of the Minister of Maori Affairs - a certain Mr Horomia… She's been a Treaty Negotiator (and) her family is extremely well-known on the Coast and up the Bay.
This is interesting. Whaitiri appears to be, on paper at least, a very strong candidate. Ngati Kahungungu is the second largest iwi in Ikaroa-Rawhiti with some 60,000 members (Ngati Porou is the largest iwi with over 70,000 members). That is a fairly significant bloc and I am sure her whakapapa connections to Kahungungu will pay electoral dividends.
What will also work in Whaitiri’s favour is her involvement with the runanga. Runanga candidates are, more often than not, well placed and well connected. Whaitiri can work and leverage key runanga contacts. She will have access to runanga resources as well, for example information on all the Marae in the area.
Whaitiri will also know from her time in Parekura’s office what a strong campaign looks like. Furthermore, if Whaitiri stands she will be the de-facto incumbent – the anointed candidate if you will. This will not go unnoticed.
Ikaroa-Rawhiti is now shaping as a major electoral battleground with a three-way race. We know that Mereana Pitman is keen to stand for Hone Harawira's Maori Party. Na Rongowhakaata Raihania has been in place for the Maori Party for a while and he'll give it a decent candidate.
I do not want to make on a call on what way I think the seat will swing – not yet anyway. I have only ever heard good things about Pitman and Raihania. All three are strong candidates and there appears to be little that separates them. There is one distinction to be made though. Career wise both Whaitiri and Raihania come from runanga backgrounds, however Raihania was also something of a unionist, while Pitman comes from a social services background. I would also tentatively place Pitman to the left of Whaitiri and Raihania given her involvement in the radical side of the Maori renaissance.
The Mana Party/Maori party split may actually make it easier for Labour.
Everyone is trying to figure out what these three-way races will mean in the Maori electorates. Who knows? But they will be massive scraps.
Yup, it’s a hard call made harder by the fact that Hone has yet to announce a party list or a list of candidates standing in electorates.
Apparently Parekura has until May 10 or 11 to decide whether he will stand as a candidate or on the list only. If he does stand down and passes the seat to Whaitiri then Labour has a good chance of retaining the seat.