Apr 26, 2012

Rahui Katene to stand in 2014 (updated)

As I think I predicted last year, former MP Rahui Katene has put her hand up to lead the Maori Party:

Former Maori Party MP Rahui Katene has indicated she wants to lead the party when the current co-leaders step down.

Ms Katene lost her southern Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga at the last election, but plans to stand again in 2014.

She says three years in Parliament was not long enough for her vision for Te Tai Tonga to be put into place.

The lawyer says she would stand again as an MP for the Maori Party - and be leader - if that is what the people want.

She says she is making herself available and she would love to advocate on voters' behalf.

Ms Katene says she would seek re-election in Te Tai Tonga because that is where she is from and where her iwi is.

First of all, let me declare my conflict of interest here. I’m doing a little bit of work for Rino Tirikatene, the current MP for Te Tai Tonga.

Anywho, Rahui will not win in 2014, bar an extraordinary and unforeseen event. Te Tai Tonga has never been, and probably never will be, a natural electorate for the Maori Party to target. Te Tai Tonga is far different in character from the other six Maori electorates, mainly in that tino rangatiratanga is not the dominant ideology among Maori in the electorate.

If Rahui is serious about winning back the seat, basing herself in Wellington is not the best decision. When Rahui won the seat in 2008, she did so off of the back of Wellington. With that in mind, she should be targeting areas in the south where she is weak and where voter support is soft. Christchurch is, arguably, the centre of the electorate and the prize, so naturally it should be her base.

Profile is important in any electorate, but that is one area where Rahui failed. She did not build a solid support base before and leading into election year, which meant her hold on Te Tai Tonga was always going to be tenuous. From a strategic point of view, Rahui failed to carry her support in Wellington – her stronghold in 2008 - and did not solidify the young vote (where she did well in 2008).  

If Rahui wants to win, Tariana Turia should anoint her as the successor in Te Tai Hauauru. However, even then, without tribal links to and knowledge of the electorate Rahui’s chances would be marginal. Tamaki Makaurau is an electorate where tribal links are not as important, so that could be a possibility. However, Rahui has no profile in the electorate.

Under the Maori Party constitution, there must be a male and female leader. At the moment, the leader in waiting is Te Ururoa Flavell – who isn’t guaranteed a win so long as Annette Sykes stands again. I think, come 2014, the Maori Party is finished. The narrative that the Maori Party are sell-outs is set and the party has failed to counter it. Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are, perhaps, the only genuinely pan-Maori leaders in Parliament. Te Ururoa and Rahui don’t have the pan-Maori appeal of the current leaders. Unless the Maori Party defines a base, for example conservative Maori, the party will fail with Te Ururoa and Rahui who are not pan-Maori leaders.


  1. Yes, the Maori Party are toast if they attempt to transition to new leadership at the 2014 election: it is simply unpaletable. That is why the smart thing to do would be to bring the new leaders in via byelection in 2013, and allow for them to build up their support bases before 2014. Of course, these byelections would also allow for Mana to do something similar.

  2. Rahui does whakapapa to Te Tai Tonga, and actually there are a lot of disappointed people that she didnt get in. To say that the 'dominant ideology' is not based on Tino Rangatiratanga is also a gross and sweeping judgement, and as a tangata whenua of this rohe I am a bit annoyed at that. To be honest there is a mood of disappointment that Rino got the seat - what has he done for the electorate since entering? Zero - Where is the strong voice for Te Tai Tonga now that Rahui is no longer there? There isnt one. Every time he speaks his foot goes straight back into his mouth. It's quite sad really, however, you reap what you sow.

    1. I know she does, I didn't say she didn't. Of ocurse it's a sweeping judgement. I'm not saying tino rangatiratanga is not an important part of Te Tai Tonga, I'm saying that - on balance - tino rangatiratanga does not prevail. If it did, we probably would have seen Rahui or Clinton (the two kaupapa Maori candidates) win. I dispute that Rahui was a strong voice - if she was so strong why was she voted out. Challengers don't win elections, incumnbents lose them i.e. Rahui lost the election despite having almost all the advantages.

  3. Very accurate analysis Morgan. The MP will be gone after the next election. How can they protest against what Nat are up to and still support them in power??????

  4. I voted for Katene, and was somewhat disappointed with Rino taking the seat.

    Both are pretty uninspiring candidates, and I actually though Clinton was probably the most charismatic (although this does not make up for a lack of palatable policy). Primarily, my motivation for voting Katene was to maximize the Maori Party's influence in government this term.

    MP promotes policy more conducive to my/Maori interests than Labour, and has more capability of getting that policy through (under a blue government).

  5. I also voted for Rahui and was also dissapointed with Rino. How am I suppoed to push a matter with an MP who has no voice, and one who cannot get me Ministerial advice at the drop of a hat?

  6. Well I doubt those who voted for Rahui would do so again, or for the Maori Party for that matter. If you are unimpressed with Rino, I guess you'll have to wait to see who Mana promote?????



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