There is without doubt a true political shift happening amongst our people that is being shown clearly and definitively in the nominations that are lining up to stand in the Te Ikaroa Rāwhiti seat.
There is a new generation on the rise. There is a rise of a new generation. There is excitement and expectation of what may happen, of who the people of Te Ikaroa Rāwhiti will select to be their representative in the colonial parliament. We have heard speak of the next person needing to be grassroots, we have heard that it is not wise to attempt to fill the shoes of the much cherished Parekura Horomia, and both of those korero must now influence how each of the candidates will present themselves to their people.
What is clear is that Māori electorates now seek those who are willing to be in service to the people. The day that Māori could be elected under their party banner being enough is over. If parties are seen to lack commitment to our people or to work against our wider interests then our people will throw them out as quickly as we vote them in. No party has clearly safe seats in Māori electorates irrespective of the history of the voting. So the line up of nominations that we have seen in Te Ikaroa Rāwhiti makes things particularly exciting and a process worth following.
The Green Party have decided to take the leap and stand Marama Davidson, Mana have put forward Te Hamua Nikora, the Māori Party have Na Raihania, and the Labour party have confirmed Meka Whaitiri. The voters of Te Ikaroa Rāwhiti have a virtual feast of talent, skill and commitment, and so they should.
Te Wharepora Hou is excited that Marama Davidson has chosen to take the nomination with the Greens. It is an opportunity for her to highlight her commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the wellbeing of Papatūānuku, of whānau, hapū, iwi and all of our current and future generations. Marama has always taken on the role as a voice for our whānau and in particular to provide a space for Māori women to speak and express issues most important to our hearts. Marama listens to her heartbeat. And we support her fully to take these issues on to a national platform. The decision by the Greens to stand a candidate has been questioned by some, however their decision that the person who stands be a Maori woman with strength of commitment to our people, to our rights, to our whenua, to our environment, to our future generations can not be questioned.
Overall this line-up signals a new time for Māori electorates, and we should be thankful to the Greens and Mana bringing new, creative possibilities to the election campaign trail who will challenge the voters to think beyond the two parties that have dominated the last two elections in that electorate. It is also critical that the often raised argument of who lives ‘at home’ and who doesn’t not be allowed to dominate the upcoming conversations that need to happen within the electorate. What is most important is that Māori voters consider what are the issues that are of most importance to them, and who will be the person who will represent their issues with the commitment and passion that they need and deserve.
It is equally important the parties who have chosen to support candidates in this By-election recognise that this is only the beginning for each of these candidates. Come 2014 they should all feature high on the party lists. If these nominations are a reflection of what is to come in 2014 then there is no doubt that each of the Māori electorates are now up for grabs. Now that’s an exciting prospect!