With scarce resources and limited time Mana needed a name candidate. I think that’s why Te Hamua edged out Leon Hawera. Although Leon offered a better political mind (apparently), Te Hamua offered name recognition and street appeal.
Low turnout out will work against Mana, Bomber’s right to argue that it’s a race for second place. To win the momentum Mana needs to supplant and be seen to supplant the Maori Party as the independent Maori voice.
Te Hamua needs play off of his street appeal (the “Haati Naati” stuff). If he can do that effectively turnout will increase (I assume) and so too the chances of snatching second place. For his sake I hope he backs off any talk of marijuana.
The Maori Party
Na Raihania carries himself well, but that’s not enough to win. He was gracious and able in 2011, but the structure of the electorate hasn’t change - overwhelmingly Labour.
The Maori Party is running to win. The party needs to build momentum off of their budget wins and the byelection is the platform to do so. The problem, though, is that the party’s narratives are vulnerable. The ‘at the table’ argument is easily undermined against the ‘under the table’ narrative. In other words, the party can point to their wins, like $34m in new funding in budget 2013, but that is nullified against the context, $34m represents less than 4% of new funding in budget 2013.
Add to that inferior branch operations (in comparison to Labour at least) and the mana and affection Parekura had earnt (that will mostly flow to the Labour candidate) and the Maori Party seems better off going for silver.
The Greens are serious about the Maori vote. Good. Standing demonstrates that their commitment to kaupapa Maori is more than rhetorical.
I wouldn’t have a clue who they have in mind, Manu Caddie is happy in local government,
The Greens role in the byelection will be, I think, to keep Labour honest. In the race for second place (i.e. between Mana and the Maori Party) there is a chance that Labour will gallop through the middle of a clear field. That’s not healthy and that’s where the Greens will be most important.
The byelection will be won or lost in the selection hui. Four candidates have stepped forward: Hayden Hape, Henare O’Keefe, Meka Whaitiri and Shane Taurima. All four are capable of winning the seat. The smart money is on Meka and Shane.
Hayden Hape is capable, but the indications are that he isn’t ready and lacks the recognition that the other three enjoy.
Henare O’Keefe is a legend. With local government experience (as a Hastings District Councillor) and a deep commitment to Maori (he’s fostered hundreds of kids over two decades), Henare is hard to bet against. However, without networks in the party he can’t and won't win selection. Winning selection is mostly about political manoeuvring, the strength of your CV is secondary.
Shane Taurima suffers from the same problem: a lack of networks in the party. The difference between Shane and Henare, though, is that Shane knows how to play the selection and is being well advised. He has leveraged off of the media and is signing up new members too. Aside from running a smooth operation, Shane's communication skills and wide whakapapa connections are his biggest assets.
Meka offers wide whakapapa connections as well, although her central strength is her iwi experience. Arguably an ideal candidate for post-settlement Maori society. Meka is signing up new members and is well advised too. Shane is a favourite, but Meka is more of a favourite (if that makes sense). She is a better sell on the ground and Shane - whether justified or not - is perceived to be a candidate that the Labour leadership is attempting to parachute into the electorate. That perception might be fatal if Shane is selected.
Lastly, if you want to be the first to find out who the winning Labour candidate is you can sign up here.
This is a dry run for the Maori seats in 2014. An upset win is possible, but falls well short of being probable. Labour can win by default. The mana and affection that Parekura had earnt will fall to the Labour candidate. High turnout and the introduction of a strong Green candidate could fracture Labour’s vote and push their winning margin to the edge. Possible, but not probable.
*Turns out I was wrong on that one. See the comments.