Jackson and Tamihere running for mayor

By Wayne Thompson

Two former MPs turned talkback hosts have entered mayoral races - Willie Jackson in Manukau and John Tamihere in Waitakere.

Promising to inject lively and colourful debate into campaigns for their cities, the pair are also highlighting their track records for being forceful advocates.

They are aiming to replace retiring Manukau veteran Sir Barry Curtis and Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey, who is seeking a sixth term.

"The Maoris are coming" joked Mr Tamihere as he and Mr Jackson walked up the summit of Mt Eden yesterday. But Mr Jackson, his co-host on Radio Live, showed annoyance at being asked whether the duo, if elected, would show a more serious and bureaucratic side?

"Everything I've done is serious," said Mr Jackson. "We've been politicos all our lives, we have been advocates for years. We have a bit of fun but we also address serious issues.

"It's no publicity stunt. This a serious challenge by two people who are committed to representing people."

Both men have been high-profile champions for urban Maori since the early 1990s.

A former trade union official, Mr Jackson, 47, is chairman of the National Urban Maori Authority, hosts TV One's Eye to Eye programme and is chief executive of Urban Maori broadcasting which produces Radio Waatea and George FM.

He was an MP from 1995-2003, leading the Mana Motuhake Party and being deputy leader of the Alliance.

"I've been asked to represent all people of all political philosophies," he said.

"Manukau needs a new face, strong leadership and advocacy and I have the experience to do what the city needs."

Mr Jackson said his focus would be making Manukau a safer city. He was disgusted at the abundance of liquor sales and gambling outlets and prostitution.

Mr Tamihere, 48, is chief executive of the Waipareira Trust, a social service provider in west Auckland. He developed it into a trust with assets of $12 million before a controversial six years in Parliament.

In April 2005 he fell out with Labour MPs after he criticised them in an interview for Investigate magazine. He lost the Tamaki Makarau seat to Dr Pita Sharples in 2005.

Meanwhile former Labour MP Georgina Beyer has pulled out of the Carterton mayoral race, saying it is time to move on from politics. " I think it's time to let go and stand aside."

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