Joseph James "Billy Boy" Borell was possibly one of the youngest wharfies in the early 1960s and is now the oldest Bay of Plenty electoral candidate.

The 77-year-old Te Puna resident is Tauranga's candidate for the Maori Party.

Yesterday, he hosted Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell, Mana's Hone Harawira and Dr Lance O'Sullivan at Te Puna Rugby Club as part of a Mana Maori Motuhake hui to discuss the future of Maori politics. Members of the community attended and were also treated to a hangi.

Mr Borrell said his decision to stand was influenced by his father Joseph and grandfather Wiremu Rikihana, who was a New Zealand tribal leader and politician.


Mr Borell, nicknamed Billy Boy, remembered his father's huge interest in politics before he died in 1963 at age 52.

"He used to have his radio going on election night and he would be there with his papers and he had big papers all over the place," Mr Borell said. "And it would be tick, tick here."

Mr Borell got his first job at a Tauranga concrete company at age 14 while he was still at Tauranga Boys' College.

At age 15, he was "seagulling" at the wharf looking for casual work.

"I used to go to school and on a Wednesday when it was payday, I would cycle down to get my wages.

"I would get to the pay clerk and they would tell me my father has already picked up my wages," he joked.

Maori Party candidate Joseph James Borell (left) and Wairiki MP Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo/George Novak
Maori Party candidate Joseph James Borell (left) and Wairiki MP Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo/George Novak

Mr Borell took up a job working on the railways as a cleaner at age 16 before getting a full-time job as a wharfie and driving steam winches at the Port of Tauranga in 1962.

"April 2 I still remember going there," he said. "I got to the job late. I was one of two of the youngest to get a job at the wharf at that time."

At age 68, Mr Borell retired.

In 1981, the once father-of-six lost his daughter after a fatal car accident in Te Maunga.

"Just turned 17 she did," Mr Borell said. "About five people were killed in that accident that year.

"It was a few years ago now but the scars are still there."

Mr Borell said he became a member of the Maori Party when it formed in 2004 after the hikoi that protested against the proposed legislation to vest ownership of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed in the Crown.

The march began in Northland and ended in Wellington in May 2004 after picking up numerous supporters on the way.

Mr Borell said his wife Taakahi Borell was also a big part of his decision to stand for the Tauranga electorate for the Maori Party.

"She was one of our first presidents of the party that was formed in Tauranga," he said.

The candidate encouraged young people to vote in this year's election.

"I want to be a face for our people and to be a role model for the younger ones, encouraging our people and to be more prominent in the affairs of the world," he said.

"If we get more party votes then we have more ammunition to fire more bullets."

Mr Borell also wanted to get more Maori into employment so more people could afford to buy their own homes.

"Our people are in poverty, they cannot afford a house. They need to find employment," he said.

Training schemes were a great start to getting more people into employment so they could eventually buy homes, he said.

"My father never had a home to call his own until Maori Affairs came on the scene."