The Labour candidate for Te Tai Harauru, Nanaia Mahuta, comes with a big political pedigree but her profile has not been large.

Unlike her highly recognisable rival, Mauri Pacific MP Tukoroirangi Morgan, she has worked quietly in the background knocking on doors to encourage Maori to get on the election roll and get out and vote.

Ms Mahuta told her uncle Koro Wetere - who held the seat for Labour for 27 years before his resignation from politics in 1996 - to keep what was the Western Maori seat warm for her because she would one day take over.

That day could soon be here.

A Marae-DigiPoll survey of the seat between October 21 and 29 showed that Ms Mahuta commanded the support of 45 per cent of those questioned.

The New Zealand First candidate, Lorraine Anderson, was well behind on 16 per cent.

Mr Morgan, who defected from NZ First after the coalition breakup last year, was third on 14 per cent. The poll of 377 people had a 5 per cent margin of error.

Both he and Ms Mahuta are fiercely loyal to the Kingitanga movement, led by Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

Mr Morgan, forever dogged by the price he paid for a pair of underpants, has never had problems attracting the spotlight, often for the wrong reasons.

He has had clashes with his Tainui tribal leaders.

They once bluntly told him to keep his nose out of tribal business when Tainui unsuccessfully tried to repatriate taonga from an auction in New York.

The tribe felt the publicity surrounding the taonga could force up the price.

Mr Morgan again upset tribal members on the eve of Apec when he insisted that there be a full, formal, traditional Maori welcome under the protocol of Tainui at Auckland Airport for the leaders on their arrival.