Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Winner relieved with 42pc of vote

New Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri will attend her first meeting with the Labour caucus tomorrow.

Meka Whaitiri is stepping down as Ngati Kahungunu's CEO now she's an MP. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Meka Whaitiri is stepping down as Ngati Kahungunu's CEO now she's an MP. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection winner Meka Whaitiri will resign as Ngati Kahungunu chief executive today and travel to Wellington for her first caucus meeting with Labour MPs tomorrow - although it will be another week before she is formally confirmed as the region's new MP.

Ms Whaitiri was back at her home in Hawkes Bay yesterday after a month on the campaign trail and planned a quiet celebratory barbecue with her family last night.

"I feel relieved. I don't like to count my chickens before they hatch."

She got 42 per cent of the vote - lower than the late Parekura Horomia's result of about 60 per cent in 2011 but with the same 1500 majority he got in 2008 against the Maori Party's Derek Fox.

Ms Whaitiri said she was satisfied with that result, given the relatively short campaign period.

"It was a win and I'm happy with that."

She was looking forward to her new role, and was hoping to work alongside her colleagues in areas such as Maori regional development, health and education.

"I'm not positioning myself for anything in particular yet. But Maori regional development, I'm interested in what will release the iwi/Maori economy."

However, it will not be all plain sailing - Ms Whaitiri's stance against mining is in contrast to that of Labour's Maori affairs and regional development spokesman Shane Jones, who supports mining for the jobs it brings to the regions.

Meanwhile, the Maori Party's candidate, Na Raihania, will push for his party to swallow its pride and agree with the Mana Party not to battle each other in some of the Maori seats.

Mr Raihania was pipped by Mana candidate Te Hamua Nikora by about 500 votes in the byelection but the combined votes of both men totalled more than Ms Whaitiri got, prompting a resurgence in calls by Mana leader Hone Harawira for the two parties to join together.

Mr Raihania said the byelection meant the party had to take a hard look at itself and see if accommodations could be reached in the Maori seats.

He intended to argue for the change in position at the party's annual conference in a fortnight, and believed the party presidents and councils should hold those talks rather than the party leaders because of the personal acrimony following Mr Harawira's split with the party.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said discussion was free, but whether it amounted to anything was a different question. "Anything is possible and we have to reflect on where we are at the moment and see what is in the best interests of the long-term survival of the Maori Party.

"But we parted ways, and we parted ways for good reasons.

"Not too much has changed on that, so for us to go back on the principled stand we took at the time would effectively say there was nothing in it. I don't necessarily believe that is the case."

Mr Harawira did not return calls.

- NZ Herald

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