Tamahere residents on the Maori parliamentary role are likely to see a battle in their Hauraki-Waikato electorate in next year’s national elections, reports the Waikato Times.
The seat is shaping up for a major political stoush with the man at the centre of a Tainui employment controversy confirming he wants to stand against Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta in the traditionally safe seat.
Hemi Rau, who was the man sacked from one of Tainui’s top jobs for allegedly leaking sensitive information to the media, confirmed he was intending to seek Maori Party candidacy for the electorate. He would not comment any further, the Waikato Times reported.
The Hauraki-Waikato electorate, which is one of five Maori seats and stretches from Manurewa to Kawhia, has traditionally been a Labour stronghold with the party enjoying much support from within Tainui and the Kingitanga, thanks in part to Ms Mahuta’s strong tribal links. Ms Mahuta had a 888 vote majority following the 2008 election.
The Maori seats are likely to become key battlegrounds as the Labour opposition looks to regain ground lost last election to the Maori Party, which secured a seat at the Cabinet table in coalition with National.
The Waikato Times understands at least two other candidates will seek the nomination – Housing NZ regional manager Pia Searancke and former Maori Television reporter Potaka Maipi, who was called as a witness during Mr Rau’s failed bid to the Employment Relations Authority for reinstatement.
The authority found Tainui’s executive board, Te Arataura, had acted appropriately when it sacked Mr Rau in December.
Mr Maipi has not returned phone calls made by the Times seeking comment on his apparent bid.
Angeline Greensill, who stood for the Maori Party in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate in 2008, said yesterday that she had decided not stand again because she wanted to focus on issues closer to home.
“My supporters are a bit upset that I have decided not to stand again, but I felt that I needed to focus on local issues particularly those around coastal mining and the seabed and foreshore,” she said.
Ms Greensill is the daughter of political land rights activist Eva Rickard and a strong advocate for Maori land rights of West Coast whanau and hapu in the Raglan area.
Her decision has opened the door for those who want a role within the Maori Party, a current Government coalition partner with the National and ACT parties.
Ms Mahuta signalled yesterday that she was ready to defend her seat at next year’s elections, no matter who was chosen.
“Yes, I will be seeking confirmation as Labour’s candidate for Hauraki-Waikato. No, I am not complacent about being the MP for Hauraki-Waikato. No matter who the Maori Party candidate is, I am ready.”
Ms Mahuta is the daughter of Raupatu negotiator Sir Bob Mahuta and co-negotiator of last year’s Waikato river claim, the late Lady Mahuta.
Maori Party nominations for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate close on June 18.