Here are the seven winners in the Māori seats
|Morgan Godfery||Feb 6|
Te Tai Tokerau
Winner: Kelvin Davis (Labour) holds
The rumours were doing the rounds last year and the year before that Hone Harawira might stand again, this time under Destiny Church’s political wing. I doubt that. But I do think we lost something when Hone left Parliament. There are few people, whether inside Parliament or outside, as willing to tell it like it is as Harawira, rightly giving the middle finger to received wisdoms and respectability politics. The man’s a legend. But even if he stood Labour’s Kelvin Davis would still win. It helps running with the mana of the deputy prime ministership, but even without it Davis is still in the prime of his career. Wide connections across the electorate, and a capable and strong team behind him, and it’s his election to win. Labour holds.
Winner: Peeni Henare (Labour) holds – but it depends
Who wins this race depends on one unknown: will John Tamihere stand for the Māori Party? If he does Labour’s Peeni Henare will probably win the seat for a third time. Green co-leader Marama Davidson is taking a serious shot at the seat, but it’s not entirely clear the anti-government vote is high enough to share between two candidates. Or maybe it is. There are too many unknowns to make the call just yet. Will the government return Ihumātao in a form that’s acceptable to the home people? How much damage can JT inflict campaigning on Whānau Ora, the initiative for which Henare is the minister? With those unknowns at this stage you should apply a general rule – a Labour win.
Winner: Nanaia Mahuta (Labour) holds
Nanaia Mahuta holds it easily. No one, absolutely no one, has a chance against her.
Winner: Tamati Coffey (Labour) holds
Some people think Waiariki is competitive, and so all kinds of wild rumours are doing the rounds. Names that people around the traps are dropping include Wally Haumaha, the deputy police chief, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, the Te Pou Matakana chair, even former seat holder Tuariki Delamere. But it seems most likely Rawiri Waititi will stand, as Maiki Sherman reveals (and covered here in 2018). Whether he stands or not – and unquestionably he’s a strong candidate - Tāmati Coffey is probably safe. He did the work this term, developing good local relationships across the electorate, and getting stuck into constituency issues. He is very vulnerable in some areas – like the Hauraki-Waikato settlement and Tauranga Moana – but that’s probably not enough to diminish his support to the point where the Māori Party could regain the seat.
Winner: Meka Whaitiri (Labour) holds
It’s Meka Whaitiri all the way.
Te Tai Hauāuru
In 2014 the commentators were picking a Māori Party hold, with Chris McKenzie succeeding his old boss, Dame Tariana Turia, as the electorate MP. I went the other way, arguing Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe’s ground game would carry the day. I made the same argument in 2017, and with the same result. What’s notable, though, is the polls went the other way. In 2014 and 2017 the Māori Televisions polls had Rurawhe trailing his Māori Party competitors, but both times he came from behind to win comfortably.
The safe thing is to make the same prediction – Rurawhe will gallop home again. But this time around I’m just a little less sure. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is building an on the ground campaign team. At Rātana in January I’m told she and her party took on the largest ope, a signal that she can call on a big support group at short notice. She’s also campaigning widely in places where the Māori Party can rely on a base, like Ōtaki where the wānanga and active Marae offer a “kaupapa vote”, to borrow a favourite Māori Party phrase. Add in Jack McDonald’s endorsement and the Māori Party vote grows (some his vote will still split Labour, but my pick is that a majority of it will split Māori Party).
This is the electorate to watch.
Te Tai Tonga
Winner: Rino Tirikatene (Labour) holds
The Māori Party could stand Tā Mark Solomon himself and I still think Tirikatene would win. There are few MPs as visible as Rino. He travels to every corner of the south, supporting everything from local netball tournaments to the school kapa haka show. It also helps the Te Tai Tonga MPs is exceedingly tall, and so impossible to miss wherever he goes. As the Māori Affairs Select Committee chair he’s had the opportunity to develop relationships further north too, and managed a surprising coup in securing New Zealand First support for the first reading of his Private Member’s Bill to entrench the Māori seats.