Northland's would-be Parliamentarians have been challenged to deliver for Maori instead of making empty promises.

Ngati Hine elder Hirini Henare issued the challenge during a welcome at Otiria Marae, near Moerewa, on Wednesday ahead of a lively candidates meeting attended by about 120 people.

Mr Henare said the candidates had to prove they were people of their word.
"I am sick and tired of politicians making promises to our people, and nothing comes of it," he said.

The meeting was organised by the marae and NorthTec Students Association, and entertainingly MC'd by Tukaha Milne. Laughter regularly threatened to drown out the candidates' korero.


Audience members were issued with flash cards showing a hammer and nail (for speakers who hit the nail on the head), a bull on a toilet (self-explanatory) and a reversible card with the words teka (lies) and tika (correct).

Pre-prepared questions to specific candidates tackled topics such as school commissioners (a sore point since the sacking of Moerewa School's board two years ago), sealing dusty rural roads, deep-sea oil drilling, Papakainga housing schemes, te reo in schools and the Treaty settlement process (a hot topic for Ngati Hine, which is staunchly opposed to government plans to negotiate a direct settlement with mandating body Tuhoronuku). Audience members were able to submit their own questions in writing during the meeting.

Organiser Mylie George said the aim was to boost political engagement among young Maori.

"In light of what happened in Moerewa with the floods, our people have realised we need to get our own people into government so when things like this happen we get a quicker response."

The questions were based on a survey of community concerns. Some candidates were out-of-area because kaumatua wanted people who whakapapa back to the marae.

"They wanted to celebrate Maori being at the forefront and going for political positions, no matter what party they are from," she said.

23 Aug, 2014 9:00am
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The meeting followed a similar event ahead of last year's local elections aiming to boost Maori involvement in politics.

Otiria Marae's campaign was credited with helping to lift voter turnout in Kawakawa-Moerewa from 30 per cent in 2010 to more than 45 per cent last year. The marae's goal is to boost turnout to 85 per cent within six years.

As Arthur Harawira, brother of Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, said: "Bad politicians are elected by people who don't vote".

Candidates at the meeting, in speaking order, were Les King (Focus NZ, Whangarei), Clinton Dearlove (independent, Te Tai Tokerau), Hone Harawira (Mana, Te Tai Tokerau), Pita Paraone (NZ First, Whangarei), Willow-Jean Prime (Labour, Northland), Marama Davidson (Green Party, Northland), Kelvin Davis (Labour, Te Tai Tokerau), Te Hira Paenga (Maori Party, Te Tai Tokerau) and Peeni Henare (Labour, Tamaki Makaurau).