Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Maori Party wants David Tua to stand

Exclusive: Retired boxer is interested in entering politics and has even considered starting his own party.

David Tua's Samoan heritage is no barrier to his becoming a candidate for the Maori Party. Photo / Christine Cornege
David Tua's Samoan heritage is no barrier to his becoming a candidate for the Maori Party. Photo / Christine Cornege

The Maori Party is seeking talks with retired boxer David Tua to discuss the possibility of his standing for the party at the next election.

But it had better get a hurry on. While Tua told the Herald he was more than happy to have talks with the Maori Party, he was also happy to sit down with Mana and the Conservatives.

"I'll sit down with anyone. Anyone and everyone ... I'm not going to close the door on anyone."

A Mana Party worker had already made a preliminary approach but the Conservative Party had not.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell approached Tua after hearing that he praised the party during a television interview at the Maori Sport Awards nine days ago.

The only reason they haven't met yet, they say, is that they haven't been able to co-ordinate their diaries.

Mr Flavell said he was keen to talk to Tua before Christmas about the possibility of standing in a general seat in Auckland or going high on the list, "or both".

Tua was born in Samoa but the Maori Party has fielded candidates of many ethnicities - including Pacific Islanders, Pakeha and Chinese - in the past for general seats. They have not had high profiles because the party has tended to concentrate on the seven Maori electorate seats, of which it holds three.

"Our approach for the next election is going to clearly be different," Mr Flavell said. "Our kaupapa [defining issues] should appeal to all New Zealanders."

Tua retired from professional boxing after his last fight, against Alexander Ustinov last month, but even before the bout, he had talked about a career in politics and possibly starting his own party.

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Asked last night if he wanted to meet the Maori Party, Tua said: "Absolutely."

"At the end of the day it is about running for the people. It's about those who don't have a voice. It's about the Pacific people. It's about who are contributing to the country of New Zealand.

"I've always done the very best that I can. I just serve the people for the right reason, the right purpose and the right intention. It's up to them. If they need and want me to run, I will run."

Tua lives in Mangere, a seat held by Labour MP Sua William Sio with a 15,159-vote majority.

Tua said he had spent time accompanying a community liaison worker and familiarising himself with the South Auckland community.

"To hear about things that happen in a community is one thing, but to actually be within, with people who make decisions, what happens around the community, it has been an eye-opener for me."

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig said he was aware of Tua's desire to enter politics but there had been no direct conversations between him and the party that he was aware of.

- NZ Herald

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