August 07, 2014
Talent might not be enough
Talent might not be enough
OPINION: Lately I have been mediating political debates on behalf of Maori Radio.
Earlier this week, I facilitated a debate in New Plymouth in the Te Tai Hauauru electorate. The seat is held by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia and was seen as certain to return to the Maori Party until Tariana announced she was retiring from politics.
Most commentators are now picking the seat to go to Labour. It would be a travesty if that happened because the new Maori Party candidate Chris Mackenzie is an outstanding individual who is simply in another class when compared to the Labour candidate.
Mackenzie is as slick as any Maori candidate. I have seen in recent years, he is articulate and was able to respond to every question that I threw at him.Labours Adrian Rurawhe on the other hand was a little lost particularly after I asked him ‘Why he was standing for Labour?’ He had previously left Labour with Tariana disgusted at their betrayal over the Foreshore and Seabed. And he was Tariana’s former Maori Party chairman but things didn’t go his way so he packed up and went back to Labour.
It was no surprise then that he struggled to respond when I asked him ‘if he was a traitor?’ But it was a worry to hear him struggling with routine questions. He is a solid individual, competent a business manager with impeccable whakapapa links to the Ratana church.
Mackenzie has been the lead-negotiator for the Ngati Raukawa tribe, ministerial advisor and has x-factor written all over him. If the seat was just judged on talent, he would win by a country mile.
Unfortunately though, that’s not how politics works.
Tariana lost thousands of votes in 2011 to a Labour candidate who was barely known in the electorate. And with her not being there now, Rurawhe is the favourite to take the seat. Mackenzie unfortunately is tainted by the perception that the Maori Party has sold out to National as well there is still resentment over the Maori Party not making up with Hone Harawira and Mana.
Add to the equation, our people’s strange obsession with Labour and you can see how tough a job Mackenzie has in front of him. He has a great campaign team though and Tariana is still an integral part of his strategy.While he is not the favourite to win, he is not out of the race as some of the so-called experts would have you believe. Maori in the electorate should think carefully before they give their vote blindly back to Labour.
Chris Mackenzie is a special candidate and deserves an opportunity to go to Parliament.
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