Nov 7, 2011

Waiariki: Electorate analysis

There are three marginal Maori seats – Te Tai Tonga, Tamaki Makaurau and Waiariki. Of the three, Waiariki is the hardest to call. Te Ururoa Flavell is facing a strong challenge from Mana’s Annette Sykes while Labour’s Louis Te Kani could gallop up the middle if Annette falls short.

Today’s post is the second in a series analysing the Maori electorates. I’ll look at the electorate profile, the candidates and then I’ll offer my thoughts on how and to whom the electorate will fall.


(Here is the link to the electorate profile from the Parliamentary Library)

Waiariki wraps around the Bay of Plenty coast from Cape Runaway in the east to Waihi Beach. The boundary then extends inwards to Turangi. The main centres in Waiariki are Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane. Smaller centres include Kawerau, Opotiki and Te Puke. The tangata whenua in Waiariki whakapapa to either the Mataatua Waka or the Te Arawa Waka. However, some hapu derive from peoples who predate the arrival of both Waka.

The most populous Iwi in Waiariki is Tuhoe (Mataatua) followed by Nga Puhi (Mataatua), Ngati Tuwharetoa (Te Arawa), Te Arawa (Te Arawa), Ngati Porou (Nukutaimemeha and others) and Ngati Awa (Mataatua).

There are over 82,000 Maori in Waiariki. 41.7% are under 30 while only 12% are over 65. Waiariki has the highest rate of Maori language speakers with 26.9% speaking fluent Te Reo. Little over 5% of Maori in Waiariki hold a bachelors degree or higher. In terms of educational achievement Waiariki ranks in the bottom half of Maori electorates. Waiariki isn’t an overly religious electorate, again, ranking in the bottom half of Maori electorates when examining religious affiliation. The median household income in Waiariki is $45,200 while the New Zealand median is $59,000. 36.8% of households in Waiariki earn $50,000 or over. Again, this ranks in the bottom half of Maori electorates. Almost 25% of households do not have access to a landline while over 50% do not have access to the internet (this presents significant difficulty when it comes to polling the electorate). 26.7% of Maori in Waiariki are on some sort of government benefit.

At the 2005 election Te Ururoa polled at almost 55%. Labour’s Mita Ririnui managed to pull in 39% of the vote. The late Hawea Vercoe sponged 6% of the vote. Labour did well in the party vote coming in at 53%. The Maori Party followed with 31% and New Zealand First with 7%.

Te Ururoa Flavell increased his majority in 2008 and utterly smashed Mita Ririnui securing almost 70% of the vote. However, the Labour Party captured a plurality in the party vote stakes with 45.5%. The Maori Party secured 35.5%. New Zealand First polled well gaining almost 8% of the vote while National and the Greens did very poorly with only 5% and 2% respectively.


Three candidates will contest Waiariki. The Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell (incumbent), Labour’s Louis Te Kani and Mana Movement’s Annette Sykes.

  • Te Ururoa Flavell:

Te Ururoa affiliates to Ngati Rangiwewehi (Te Arawa) and Nga Puhi (Mataatua) and was born in Tokoroa (Te Tai Hauauru), but was raised in Waiariki attending Sunset Primary School in Rotorua. Te Ururoa trained as a teacher and has worked in education most of his life. Entering Parliament in 2005 Te Ururoa became an active Select Committee member and in 2010 his Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot and will probably have its first reading next term.

  • Annette Sykes: 

Annette has extensive affiliations across Te Arawa including Ngati Pikiao and Ngati Makino. Annette also affiliates to Taiwhakaea (Ngati Awa) and Hamua (Tuhoe). Annette was schooled in Kawerau attending Kawerau North School, Kawerau Intermediate and then Kawerau College. Annette studied law and politics at Victoria and Auckland Universities and also studied in Singapore. Over the past thirty years Annette has been one the most prominent tino rangatiratanga activists and a tireless supporter of human rights. Prior to full time full time campaigner Annette was a partner at Aurere Law in Rotorua.

  • Louis Te Kani: 

Unfortunately, I can’t find any reference to Louis tribal affiliations, but I assume that he connects to Te Arawa and the tribes of Tauranga Moana. Te Kani was born and bred in Tauranga and works in Rotorua (Louis is a very prominent lawyer in the city). Louis comes from a Labour background (he’s also Ratana) and was shoulder tapped to stand in the seat.


Waiariki is one the harder electorates to call. The Maori electorates aren’t homogenous – there are separate and often disparate communities of interest, there are different issues at play for different iwi, there is sometimes an urban/rural dichotomy and inter-tribal dynamics can favour/discriminate against some candidates.

I tend to think Annette will win, but this isn’t guaranteed.

One cannot underestimate the importance of a strong campaign. At this point in the game Annette is running the stronger campaign due, in part, to superior campaign infrastructure and a reflex swing against the Maori Party. Annette is also driving the narrative.

Annette can tap a deeper well of campaign support than Te Ururoa and Louis. Mana can rely on numerous branches across the electorate whereas Te Ururoa can’t (the Maori Party branches are weak to non-existent in Waiariki) and Louis can not tap the same numbers that Mana can. Annette even has a big campaign bus like John Key and National’s bus in the 2008 election. In terms of hoardings, however, I would (anecdotally speaking) say Louis Te Kani has the most.

A well defined message can go a long way. Annette has, I think, the perfect throwaway line: a vote for Te Ururoa is a vote for National. The Nat’s poll horrendously among Maori in Waiariki (see above) and much of the reflex swing against the Maori Party is due to their support for the Nat’s on, for example, tax and the MCA Act. Annette needs to cement the narrative that the Maori Party, and by extension Te Ururoa, have sold out Maori interests.

Te Ururoa enjoys only soft support outside of Rotorua. Tauranga is anyones game, Whakatane and Taupo are marginal and Kawerau, Te Teko, Ruatoki (and the Tuhoe rohe generally), Opotiki, Turangi and Te Kaha (as well as the rest of the East Coast) will probably fall Annette’s way.

Booth by booth the party vote is fairly consistent across the electorate. In case you wondered I’m examining the party vote because the candidate vote is misleading given that only two candidates stood and the losing candidate was weak (to the point of not even trying).

The distance between Labour and the Maori Party is fairly even across all the polling places. In the Eastern Bay the tino rangatiratanga vote (TR) - i.e. Maori Party vote - was strongest in Te Kaha (as well as Cape Runaway and Torere), Te Teko, Waimana (as well as Kutarere), Ruatoki and, surprisingly, Ohope. In Rotorua the tino rangatiratanga vote was strong in Mamaku, Koutu and Glenholme/Springfield (the polling place was on Devon St which is part of Springfield and Glenholme). In Tauranga the TR vote was strong in Bethlehem and Waitangi only. The TR vote was strong in the southern end of the Taupo region, in particular Turangi, Tokaanu and Wairakei.

Annette’s, for want of a better term, tino rangatiratanga credentials are far stronger than Te Ururoas. She can stand on her record as an advocate for Maori. Maori know who Annette Sykes is and Maori know what she stands for. Annette can easily eat into Te Ururoa’s vote in the above areas because of this. However, to win the electorate she needs to siphon sufficient votes in Opotiki, Rotorua, Tauranga, or Taupo. Or she needs to win one of those areas in large numbers. Opotiki is Whakatohea territory. Whakatohea is a rural Iwi and, in my experience, staunch tino rangatiratanga. Annette's rhetoric and record will appeal. Rotorua is a hard sell for Annette. I have mentioned one of the disputed attitudes of Te Arawa that may count against her. However, I think Annette will do well in Ngati Pikiao and in Rotoiti. I think she will not do too well in Ngati Whakaue though. I tend to think Tauranga will fall Louis Te Kani’s way – at least in Tauranga proper. On the outskirts I think Te Ururoa will hold his vote. I think Tauranga Maori are quite unionised (e.g. port workers). Annette could do well in Taupo, but it depends on how well she campaigns. Mana infrastructure in Taupo is fairly strong. The Party is standing a general seat candidate so Annette could tap the general seat candidate’s networks.

Te Ururoa will almost certainly lose the East Coast from Opotiki to Cape Runaway. He’s played the invisible man over the past three years. Initially, the Maori Party, morespecially Te Ururoa, did not back Te Whanau a Apanui in their opposition to oil prospecting. The job was left to Hone Harawira (who of course isn’t even the local MP), Greenpeace and, but to a lesser extent, the Greens. Te Ururoa will also lose Tuhoe and Kawerau as well. In the aftermath of the Terror raids Te Ururoa did a brilliant job attacking the then Labour Government and he also provided outstanding support to his constituents. However, Annette has played a major role as well representing many of the Tuhoe accused/former accused. She has been their since the beginning and stuck at it. Annette also whakapapas to Tuhoe and her politics appeals to them too (think Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe – Tuhoe independence). Te Ururoa will probably lose Kawerau too. Annette is a local girl who knows the town and the issues. Te Ururoa hasn’t been very active in Kawerau so the town does not really have much of a connection with him.

Te Ururoa will probably lose significant support along the coastline from Whakatane to Waihi Beach. Iwi along the coast were, or are, unhappy with the MCA Act. However, it is a moot point whether this alone will be enough to swing the vote in the Coast. If it is that vote will fall to Annette. Maori still have not forgiven Labour for the foreshore and seabed debacle in 2004.

(Here is the link to the booth by booth summary)


I doubt Louis will gallop up the middle. I think Annette can steal enough of Te Ururoa’s vote outside of Rotorua to steal the seat from him. Louis will do well in Tauranga, but to win you need to win more than one of the main centres. Annette’s victory is not guaranteed. If Te Ururoa can execute a strong campaign he will retain the seat. But this is unlikely. There are few functional Maori Party branches, few resources and few functioning networks. The momentum is in Annette’s favour.


  1. You're right in saying a vote for Te Ururoa is a vote for National. It's disturbing when I think about the path the Maori Party have taken in their pursuit to stay in parliament. Let's see how the MANA Movement do, not long to go now! BTW are you going to be at the Ikaroa Rawhiti Kowhiri debate?

  2. Kia ora Aaron,

    I won't be at the Ikaroa debate. I was meant to be going to the Waiariki debate tonight but I've been held up here in Wellington. Should be a mean debate though.

  3. Geez, you got a lot riding on your predictions there Morgan.

    And what if Annette doesn't live up to all the hype?

    It's going to be a waste of tax-payers money, and 3 years, if Annette gets in..


    Because no-one wants to work with the Hone Party.

  4. True, James. For Annette to win she needs to pull together a number of different strands. She needs to highlight where the Maori Party fell, she needs to highlight where Te Ururoa was weak as a constituent MP (e.g. during the oil prospecting controversy), she needs to target areas of soft support for Te Ururoa (e.g. Te Teko, Whakatane, Kawerau) and steer clear of Te Ururoa's stronghold (Rotorua proper), she needs to build a narrative (e.g. Mana won't sell out like the Maori Party) and she and her campaign team needs to be everywhere at once.

  5. Kia ora, firstly I just want to say that Te Ururoa has a lot of support in and around Whakatane and especially in and amongst Tuhoe. He did well last night, and the most important factor in this electorate is the respectful relationships he has across the electorate - he has been a good MP, but more importantly he has integrity when picking up issues. He doesnt just fly in over the top of people, and use their kaupapa for his own political gain - which is a trait that has been noted in some of the other candidates. He is going to win, hands down.

    Secondly, a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for me - and Im not a National lover. Check my blog out

    If you look at the polls it looks like National could possibly govern alone and that would be terrible.

    Also Morgan, e te whanaunga, how do you feel about spending some time with me to discuss aspects of the Maori Party? I dont think you give us a fair go in your blogs.

  6. kia ora Kaapua,

    I don't doubt Te Ururoa has a lot of support in Whakatane and parts of Tuhoe (especially in the Ruatoki Valley) after his good work in the aftermath of the raids. But I think it is soft support. What separates Te Ururoa from other Maori electorate MPs is that his majority is not built on personality like, say, Parekura's. As a consequence I don't think many voters in Waiariki have any loyalty to him. They vote him in because he is doing a good job - or was doing a good job. This term he has stumbled. The most prominent example being when he did not back Whanau Apanui until the very, very last minute and, in my opinion, he did so out of electoral necessity.

    I'd always be keen to meet and you can set the record straight re the Maori Party. My emails at the bottom of the page.

  7. Kia ora, I will email you soon - but not to set the record straight, it really is to give you an opportunity to get to know our kaupapa better.

    At the end of the day, we are whanaunga, from KK - I don't agree with your opinions, but I respect that fact that you have a voice and are engaging in politics (because not many rangatahi do!).

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I'd wager that Te Ururoa doesn't have much support in the Eastern BOP. I have whanau in Ruatoki, Te Teko, Kawerau, Opotiki, Waimana and Whakatane. Te Orohi Paul has a branch in Te Teko but it's not very big - nowhere near what it used to be. Same too, with Pem Bird's in Murupara. From what I see there's nothing in Whakatane and Opotiki. Tauranga and Te Puke is too big for the Maori Party supporters to cover.

    So Te Ururoa might have some support amongst the stubborn oldies but I'm still to come across anyone who supports him in these areas (who's not associated with the Runanga or paepae). And it's at runanga level that people don't like Annette. But fuck them I say.

    Plus, our old people have always been gullible and naive. To shut them up at hui and runanga meetings all you need to do is flick them a 20 and they'll nod their head and shut up happily for the rest of the meeting - it's not like they know what's going on anyway.

    This is what frustrates me about the older generation: they would rather the younger generation suffer than look at the record and policies of the parties that affect them.

    Kaapua is right. For many years Labour befriended Maori in election year but shat on them every other time. But our stupid parents and kaumatua kept voting for them because the party maintained 'special' relationships with them.

    I hate to say it but I can't wait for most of them to die off so that the cycle can be broken

  10. Te Ururoa is a great electorate MP I have had two serious issues that have happen to my whanau in the last 2 years, I contacted Te Ururoa seeking my MP assistance, on both occasions Te Ururoa and his staff supported me and my whanau to find resolutions to our problems – they didn’t just fix the problems for me they helped me to find solutions that were right for my whanau, I will be voting for Te Ururoa and the Maori Party this year because my loyalty cannot be bought with a few activist phrases…and because they have helped me and my whanau when we needed help.

  11. Just because I aint in the Texas branch, doesnt mean I dont support the Maori Party. Perhaps we just have great faith in Te Ururoa that there is no need for a branch as we are content in the work he is doing. Dont make me pull out the Texacans who fully support Te Ururoa. There are plenty - I assure you.

  12. I was one of the accused in the Tuhoe Raids (Urewera 18) Now from what I heard Ms Sykes say "She lead the way in having the charges dropped against us" I beg to differ in regards to that statement. Through out the process yes she was there and initially had several of the accused as clients. But at the end of the Supreme Court process she remained with only one. So for her to imply that she single handedly, had the charges dropped for the 14 of us is just absolute crap. Im sure Dr Rodney Harrison QC might find it a strong comment as well.
    From the day of the Raids and through the trial process the Maori Party in particular Te Ururoa had been vocal and supportive of our plight. He was there on the ground in amongst Ngai Tuhoe and again in Parliment keeping the issue alive.

    I do find it un-nerving that Annette has used the Trial as a political spring board. When in fact she ended up playing a smaller role

    I will support those that supported Us...

  13. kia ora anon,

    Thanks for commenting. Where and when did Annette say that? I must have missed it.

  14. Kia ora Morgan

    She made that comment during the Waiariki debate, Native Affairs, Monday night.

  15. Cheers. At the point I think you're referring to Annette said: "I was the Lawyer that argued it how would I not go to Parliament and fight for it" when referring to the return of Te Urewera. I assume she means that she was involved in some way with the claims process. She wasn't at that point referring to the trials. Unless she said it at another point in the show?

  16. Kiaora mo o korero Kaapua me koutou i whai muri mai. I support what Kaapua has said. I disagree with what you have written Morgan in what i believe is a very critical, harsh and negative review towards the Maori Party and in particular Te Ururoa. He has undoubtedly strong support right throughout Waiariki and works his heart out for the people and for all iwi in the Waiariki electorate. He is extremely passionate about what he does and about who he represents and is humbled at the opportunity to represent our people. if he wasn't then he wouldn't be there. Where do you get your assumptions from in terms of the support(or supposed lack of) he has throughout some parts of the electorate? What makes me laugh is how our people can actually believe all the kaka that comes out of Annettes mouth. Easy for her to say, but believeable... i dont think so.. Some of our people simply dont understand how politics work. Sitting in Government at the decision making table or throwing rocks from the backbench while in opposition ? Think about it. The Maori Party will always be independent and will always listen and base there decisions upon what our people want. They voted more agaisn't Nationals bills and policies then Labour did. Te Ururoa has my strong support and so does the Maori Party!!! Kia kaha Te Ururoa!!

  17. Kia ora anon, I know Te Ururoa works hard and is passionate for Waiariki and he should be acknowledged for that. That is not in dispute. But do the voters know that? Do the voters care? Will that matter when voters factor in Te Ururoa's silence re oil prospecting? Will it matter when voters consider the insufficient MCA Act? The unfair tax swindle? The disgusting excuse for an environmental act the ETS? The changes to ACC? The 90 day fire at will law?

    My propositions in this post are not meant to be read as statements of fact. They are, as I said, propositions built on my understanding of the electorate and what I am perceiveing at the moment. Educated guess is the sloppy term.

    Just as an example of the sort of support Mana has at the moment in Waiariki: the Opotiki Mana branch has 150 active members - and that's in Opotiki. I bet the Maori Party branch in Rotorua (the second largest centre in Waiariki and Te Ururoa's stronghold) has nowhere near as many active members.

  18. Kia ora ano Morgan

    In the words quoted by Ms Sykes. Native Affairs 7/11

    " There have been two defining moments for me this year. The first was when, we won the Urewera 18 trial... So that 14 people that I have been representing were discharged after a battle in court, that took us to the Supreme Court....It was at that point, that I made a concsience decision that I could not tolerate anymore the betrayals of the Maori Party."

    Sort of sounds like to me she has taken this as a means to launch herself into a political career. It must of been at a point in the show you may have missed maybe

  19. Yup, I missed that part of the show. Well she certainly wasn't representing 14 people, but I think she probably was involved with drafting written submissions, strategy and so on for 14 of the accused. Looks like she got a little carried away with herself with that statement.

  20. I will be voting and am on the Maori roll and residing in Te Whanau a Apanui. A widely held view held amongst Te Whanau a Apanui people is, that a vote for Te Ururoa is a vote for National is a vote for deep sea oil drilling/ fracking and mining. Te Whanau a Apanui views are well known on these issues. Hone, Annette - Mana Party, Metiria and David Clendon from Greens Party have all been visible at hui, protests that we have held against deep sea drilling and also at court appearences of our brother Elvis Teddy - Hone has been beside us at just about everything and heck we didnt vote him. We voted Te Ururoa - twice. Hone as well as Metiria and David have also debated for us in Parliament during the period when the navy were sent to the Raukumara Basin to protect Petrobras. Again, Hone wasn't the MP we put in Parliament but we're really grateful for his support. Its been quite disheartening to know that the MP we voted in just hasn't been there for us during what has been a very distressful time for our Iwi. I am sure if one looks back at the votes from the 2 previous elections - history will show that Te Whanau a Apanui supported Te Ururoa and the Maori Party very well. We can not afford to vote someone in that is not going to represent us, that isnt going to stand up for us and that isnt going to talk for us. We need someone who will come to us to seek our views and currently the person doing that for us has been Hone. The really neat thing that has come about for Te Whanau a Apanui is that there will be a very high turnout on voting day and that people who had not been a member of a party before are signing up, becoming members of Mana.

  21. Kia Ora Morgan,
    Do you still support your statement above, that Tamaki Makaurau is a marginal seat?
    Polls show that Dr Pita Sharples has this seat in the bag.
    If you do, who is the biggest threat in your easily questionable opinion?

  22. Kia ora Eddie,

    Polls of the Maori electorates have shown a lot of things in the past, most have proved wrong. Think the Native Affairs Te Tai Tokerau poll and the Marae Digi-polls of 05 and 08.

    I've blogged briefly on the Tamaki Makaurau seat at Pundit. I think Pita Sharples will retain the seat, but it is not certain. Shane could make a late play for the seat, but at the moment the smart money is on Pita retaining the seat by more than 15% in my opinion. Kereama Pene is too weak a candidate to steal enough votes from Pita to push the seat to Shane.

  23. I'd be most surprised if Annette Sykes wins. Brave call.

  24. Morgan in relation to your replies to anon and his/her korero about Annettes precieved representation of 14 people in a trial for the raids. "I know i was there" thats what she meant. I also watched opperation 8. If she was such the lawyer she made out to be while spewing out her narratives in the waiariki debate then why did she not feature so strongly in the doco?

    Stop beaing bias.

    To all Readers -
    He ropu manaaki tangata, whanau, wairua te roopu torangapu Maori.

    Annette Sykes has momentum? Yes she does. From nothing to some :P .

    Te Ururoa has less support? Yes he does. the feel here in Rotorua tells me he has lost the truly radical. But i wouldn't be so worried. As unfortunately for that paticular support base they dont vote...

    Will Te Ururoa win Waiariki? Yes. The latest Marae digi polls state that he is the overwelming leader in the party vote section of Maori roll voters.

    @Morgan again. As you have stated, you dont really like paying attention to the ellectorate vote as it can be misleading... well take the marae digi poll as a good indicator.

    Just incase you were going to rubbish Marae digi polls.
    Statistics have stated that in relation to kaupapa Maori Marae Digi polls have been pretty much spot on in every instance post ellection.

    Waiting for reply...

  25. She wont win.

    Te Ururoa will. To Te Whanau a Apanui - Lets be honest. He had to listen to everyone there. And some support it...



1. Anonymous comments will be rejected. Please use your real name or a pseudonym/moniker/etc...
2. No personal abuse. Defamatory comments will be rejected.
3. I'll reject any comment that isn't in good taste.