Labour’s record on Māori housing is a key platform in Peeni Henare’s campaign to keep his Tāmaki seat.
With just four weeks to go before the election, Henare has been out and about in the electorate, reminding voters about his record.
The cost of living, a housing shortage, a rise in crime, and unemployment twice that of non-Māori are key issues facing Māori voters in Tāmaki Makaurau.
But Henare says gains have been made for his constituency.
“Over the last three years, over 4000 houses have been built in Auckland. Our healthy school lunches. Thousands of people have benefited from that policy.
“Our people are in high spirits, they are looking at all the parties to see what policies are for them.”
Henare first stood for Labour in Tāmaki Makaurau at the 2014 general election and has held numerous portfolios including Minster of Defence, Whānau Ora and Māori health.
In 2020, more than 40 per cent of the vote in Tāmaki Makaurau went to Henare, and this year, he has a whole new set of competitors, including Takutai Kemp, from Te Pāti Māori, National’s Hinurewa te Hau and Vision NZ’s Hannah Tamaki.
But he says the decision by Te Pāti Māori to hand the candidacy to Kemp means this year’s election will be more focused on the issues than personalities.
“This isn’t a battle. I was in a battle with JT [John Tamihere], yes. But where we currently sit, the main focus for all of us is our people.”
Last week Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes told National, which had sought a review of contracts awarded to marketing and communications company Tātou, where Henare’s partner Skye Kimura was chief executive from 2021 to early this year, there was no suggestion that any impropriety had occurred.
However, on Hughes’ request, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is reviewing the processes it followed in contracting nearly $300,000 of services to Tātou between 2021 and June 2023 for marketing, communications and engagement work, including brand design.
Henare has been Associate Minister of Health (Māori health) since 2019. The Cabinet Office confirmed he declared his relationship with Kimura as a potential conflict of interest in 2018.