Fierce battle for crucial Maori seat

Te Tai Tonga Maori Party candidate Rahui Katene Photo / Agnes Ginestet
Te Tai Tonga Maori Party candidate Rahui Katene Photo / Agnes Ginestet

The Maori Party's Rahui Katene has a lead over Labour's Rino Tirikatene in a Te Karare Digi-Poll survey released this afternoon, but the pollsters aren't confident it will mean she'll retain her Te Tai Tonga seat.

The last survey of the series in the seven Maori seats gives Mrs Katene 46 per cent support. Mr Tirikatene had 35 per cent, the Green Party's Dora Langsbury 10 per
cent and Mana's Clinton Dearlove 9 per cent.

But in a statement Digi-Poll isn't writing off Mr Tirikatene.

"The Labour candidate is closely behind and enjoys higher support from 40-59 age
group. Rahui Katene seems to have strong support from 18-39 group. These voters do tend to change sides at the last moment and also there is tendency of low voter turnout in this age group. So these two factors can work in favour of [Mr] Tirikatene.''

It has been one of the more anticipated polls because of the perception that Mrs Katene was vulnerable after Maori Party branches in Wellington rebelled against the party's support of the replacement foreshore legislation.

Maori Party insiders say many of those party members have since jumped ship to Mana.

But her strong performance during the Christchurch earthquake where she was a tireless advocate for her constituents will also anchor her base.

Labour receives the most party support with 36 per cent followed by the Maori Party on 25 per cent. National with 15 per cent beats the Greens, 12 per cent, Mana, 7 per cent, and New Zealand First with 3 per cent.

John Key is the preferred Prime Minister with 29 per cent of support, with Phil Goff a distant second on 10 per cent and Maori Party co-leader Dr Sharples and Greens co-leader Metiria Turei both with six per cent.

Jobs, education, the economy and privatisation are the most important issues but while the PM is popular 55 per cent don't believe the government is heading in the right direction and 46 per cent say they are worse off under the current government.

The poll's sample size was 400 Maori roll voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 per cent.

Te Tai Tonga is the country's largest electorate taking in the South Island, Wellington, parts of Hutt Valley, Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands.

- NZ Herald

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