Auckland church leader will take on Harawira at election

By Mike Dinsdale

Te Hira Paenga, a father of five, is the assistant principal at Hato Petera College. Photo/Supplied
Te Hira Paenga, a father of five, is the assistant principal at Hato Petera College. Photo/Supplied

The Maori Party has chosen Auckland-based church leader Rev Te Hira Paenga as its candidate to take on incumbent Hone Harawira in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate in the general election.

Mr Paenga is of Ngati Hine, Ngati Kahu ki Torongare, Ngati Rangi, Te Mahurehure, Ngati Konohi, Ngati Rangi and Te Whnau a Ruataupare ki Tuparoa descent.

He has earned tertiary and post-graduate degrees from Auckland University, Waikato University, Auckland College of Education, Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo and The College of Saint John the Evangelist.

A father of five, Mr Paenga is the assistant principal at Hato Petera College, assistant curate at the Auckland Anglican Maori Mission and holds senior leadership and governance roles at Hoani Waititi Marae.

Maori Party president Rangimarie Naida Glavish said: "Te Hira is at the forefront of a new generation.

"He will be the first graduate of kohanga reo, kura kaupapa Maori and wharekura to enter into Te Whare Miere and we know he will carry out that responsibility with great honour and respect."

Maori are a youthful population. The median age of Northland Maori was 23.9 in the 2013 Census, Maori Party Te Tai Tokerau electorate chairman Charles Joe said.

"Te Hira brings with him the vigour of youth and the passion of a preacher, to respond to the urgent needs of an electorate that needs an MP who will front up to the people, and listen to their concerns, their priorities and most of all their dreams," Mr Joe said.

Mr Paenga is excited about the opportunity to be the best person he could be for the people of the north.

"My vision for Te Tai Tokerau comes from the vision we share as a whanau to focus on doing all that we can to improve wellbeing, to nurture creativity, foster excellence and encourage self-determination," he said.

Mr Paenga said he couldn't wait to begin.

The Te Tai Tokerau electorate stretches from Auckland's North Shore to Cape Reinga and also announced so far to be contesting the seat this year are Mana Party leader Mr Harawira and Labour's Kelvin Davis.

- Northern Advocate

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