Chris McKenzie to replace Turia

By John Maslin -
Tariana Turia is stepping down as MP at next year's general election. Photo / Mark Mitchell NZ Herald
Tariana Turia is stepping down as MP at next year's general election. Photo / Mark Mitchell NZ Herald

Political strategist Chris McKenzie has been named as the Maori Party's candidate for the Te Tai Hauauru electorate.

He has been selected this weekend as the person to replace party co-leader Tariana Turia who is stepping down as MP at next year's general election.

Mr McKenzie, 44, is a political strategist with a senior management, small business governance and iwi leadership background.

A father of four, he and his wife Mal moved to Tawa from his home town of Tokoroa.

Previous roles have included being the lead Treaty settlement negotiator for Ngati Raukawa, a self-employed consultant, education manager at Raukawa Trust Board and teacher at Tokoroa High School.

He is a member of the Te Ohu Kaimoana electoral college, former chairman of the Raukawa Settlement Trust and just recently gained a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

Mr McKenzie was one of six people vying for the nomination and withstood the challenge of some strong contenders.

Among them were Rahui Katene, who was the Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tonga from 2008-11, before losing out to Labour's Rino Tirikatene, Taumarunui social worker Frana Chase, businesswoman Amokura Panoho who lives in Waitara, counsellor and social worker James Makowharemahihi (Porirua), and teacher and academic Pakake Winiata from Otaki.

Making the announcement today, Mrs Turia said Mr McKenzie was smart beyond his years, related well to both young and old people, "loves our people and really wants to make a difference for them".

"Chris has proven he's a fighter for the people of his iwi and now he'll be able to share that quality with the people and iwi of Tai Hauauru," she said.

"He knows how our people work, how the system works and with him at the helm, I have no worries retiring because I know our people will be in good and capable hands," Mrs Turia said.

The party's president Naida Glavish said electorate support for Mr McKenzie would protect and grow what Mrs Turia had fought so hard for. These included Whanau Ora, maintaining the Maori seats, addressing poverty as a collective responsibility and Maori training initiatives.

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