Super City elections 2013: Tamihere plots political return

By Steve Deane

West Aucklanders to decide if former Labour MP will resurrect career.

John Tamihere accepts  he  says things that upset people. Photo / David White
John Tamihere accepts he says things that upset people. Photo / David White

Former Labour Cabinet minister John Tamihere admits he is testing the water for a full-scale political comeback by standing for election to two local government positions.

Reports of a comeback from the one-time high-flyer - whose career crashed and burned in a blaze of "front bums" and hotly denied holocaust denials - have been emerging.

Whether that happens could depend on how successful he is in his campaign to be elected to the Waitakere Licensing Trust and the Waitemata District Health Board.

"Put it this way: I just want to see what my carry is, where the numbers of votes come in from," he said.

He officially rejoined the Labour Party in December, with suggestions the move was welcomed by the party leader at the time, David Shearer, and that Mr Tamihere would stand in next year's general election.

Despite the acrimonious nature of his departure in 2005, Mr Tamihere believes he still enjoys strong support from Labour's rank-and-file.

"I annoyed people in the beltway of the Labour Party - the rainbows, the women that don't shave their legs and a few others. I had good 'carry' in the caucus. I just happened to slit my own throat with my own tongue."

This time he would be older and wiser but not necessarily more circumspect with his words.

"I do say things that upset people but I think it is fair to be overt and open, rather than going behind closed doors, telling everyone what they want to hear, then walking away and doing what you want to do."

A sense of grievance at the way the liquor licensing trusts operate and a desire to advocate for West Aucklanders on health matters motivated him to stand for the two elected positions.

"I am sick and tired of rich a***holes on the North Shore determining that the tertiary hospital has to be given everything and that Westies always have to go there. I want a greater service bracket at Waitakere Hospital for a growing population."

The Waipareira Trust chief executive is also a strong advocate for using bariatric surgery to combat obesity in West Auckland's Maori and Pacific Island population.

"I get that you are what you put in your mouth. But for some people it tips from unhealthy living to an unwellness. And as soon as it tips to unwellness, they are gone. It doesn't matter what value judgments I make, I am paying for them.

"I am paying for all their trips to the doctors, all their asthmatic treatments and respiratory issues, all this s**t, while we manage them to death.

"You say to yourself, why should we do that to one another when I have got a process that can quickly tie you up and, when I get enough of you, I can whack [the operations] out [cheaply]? Then I don't have all that tragedy and trauma; families dislocated."

The gospel according to JT

On falling out with the Labour Party
"I annoyed people in the beltway of the Labour Party _ the rainbows [gays],
the women that don't shave their legs and a few others. I had good `carry' in
the caucus. I just happened to slit my own throat with my own tongue.''

On bariatric surgery
"We have a lot of fat, obese people. A $20,000 operation is going to save us
$400,000 over time. So why wouldn't we just invest up front and say, `Listen,
you are a fat coconut, you are a fat Maori, here's what we are going to do'.''

On being a target
"If you are a player, they try to take you out of play. I didn't help myself. With
the wisdom of experience now it would have been a different game.''

On improving the lot of the regular citizen
"Eighty per cent of Kiwis do very well. It's just that 10 per cent who drag
another 10 per cent down with them. You've just got to manage the a***holes
in your community a bit better and we'll get there.''

- NZ Herald

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