Candidate not fazed by daunting campaign

By Lawrence Gullery


Expect to see the race to claim the vacant Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate ramp up as the Maori Party candidate promises a campaign "rubbing shoulders and washing dishes" with constituents during the next couple of weeks.

Bridge Pa man Na Raihania was elected the Maori Party's choice to contest the seat two weeks ago, providing a head start on the Labour, Green Party and Mana candidates.

"My campaign really started at the end of 2011 when I stood for the Maori Party kaupapa," Mr Raihania said.

"I'm not just a one-off, the other candidates are brand new faces, I am consistent throughout."

Mr Raihania was defeated by Labour's Parekura Horomia at the 2011 election. Figures from that campaign showed the three largest voting areas were Gisborne, Napier and Hastings but Mr Raihania said he wouldn't single out any particular area of the large electorate for his campaign.

"The simple answer is that I want to represent the people, all people in this electorate.

I want to earn their trust and don't want to take them for granted.

"My job is to get out there, rubbing shoulders and washing dishes, saying hello because that is where our people are at, grass roots.

"There's no point being too corporate and my background involved being on the floor with people, in the union movement and justice sector."

Mr Raihania said he had given up working fulltime to concentrate on the by-election and was grateful of his whanau support and encouragement from Maori Party members in Hawke's Bay.

"We have a strong team here and over the next few days we will ramp up the pressure and profile, getting out among the people, we're not just going to sit at home."

Mr Raihania said campaigning around the large Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat, from East Cape, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Hutt Valley was a challenge all candidates would have to face.

"It's always a very hard task to campaign around Ikaroa-Rawhiti, there are seven general electorate seats inside it, just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the task but I am up for the challenge.

"It's just a matter of re-establishing those links but also creating new ones."

Maori Party leaders visited Hawke's Bay last week to support Mr Raihania and will visit again, at the Camberley Community Centre in Hastings on June 19.

By-election candidates

  • Labour Party - Meka Whaitiri

  • Green Party - Marama Davidson

  • Mana Party - Te Hamua Nikora

  • Maori Party - Na Raihania.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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