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Incoming Tāmaki Makaurau MP Takutai Tarsh Kemp said people who made “false and baseless” accusations about Manurewa Marae treating people with kai to vote for her brought more shame on themselves than the marae.
Last week it was reported the Electoral Commission said concerns had been raised over voting at Manurewa Marae, where Te Pāti Māori candidate Kemp is the chief executive.
A day later, the NZ Herald reported the Electoral Commission was not investigating Manurewa Marae or its CEO Kemp.
Today Kemp told the Herald it made her angry, and disappointed that people would try to question the mana of Manurewa Marae.
“Anybody can make a complaint, and that’s up to the Electoral Commission to determine whether there’s an investigation,” Kemp said.
“The Electoral Commissioner confirmed to us there was no investigation.
“Manurewa Marae did not recruit or employ the people who worked in the polling booths.
“Our role was to manāki (take care of) a place for people to come to. We are proud of the mahi we do at Manurewa Marae.”
The baseless allegations of treating appear to have come from former and disgruntled Manurewa Marae employees and rival political parties.
Treating, the act of offering goods or services to influence voters, carries a high burden of proof, requiring evidence of “a corrupt intention” to warrant legal action.
Manurewa Marae was one of 37 commissioned where whānau - Māori and Pākehā - could go to vote around Aotearoa and was one of eight in Auckland, that included Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland, Makaurau Marae at Ihumato, Ruapōtaka Marae in Glen Innes and Ōrakei Marae in Ōrakei.
Heading into a new career in national politics, Kemp said she’s already learned a couple of lessons.
“Politics is politics and I said from day one of this campaign, I see people in different lights and you see people who support you and those who don’t,” Kemp said.
“Politics makes people go porangi (crazy). Bringing down the mana of our marae had to stop.
“The work of Manurewa Marae will continue. It provides kai for whānau every day.
“Marae are our last bastions for people - not just Māori - who can come to have tangi, birthdays and to feed and care for our whānau.”
Kemp said Manurewa Marae is an accessible marae and will continue to be so.
“We know our community very well and our role is to always ensure our people are heard and we provide a safe place where people can come, with no judgments.
“During Covid we vaccinated 65,000 people. Only 20 per cent were Māori and the rest non-Māori.
“Marae are there for the benefit of the entire community.”
Kemp has a few loose ends to tidy up at Manurewa Marae before handing over to a new CEO.
Manurewa Marae provides a foodbank, GP services, social services and is a Whānau Ora accredited provider.
Joseph Los’e joined NZME in 2022 as Kaupapa Māori Editor. Los’e was a chief reporter, news director at the Sunday News newspaper covering crime, justice and sport. He was also editor of the NZ Truth and prior to joining NZME worked for 12 years for Te Whānau o Waipareira.