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HĪKOI TO THE BALLOT BOX
HĪKOI TO THE BALLOT BOX
Whānau ma, Wahine ma, Tane ma, Rangatahi ma, PŌTITIA!
The 2019 Regional, Local and District Health Board elections are here. An extraordinary number of Māori candidates are contesting these elections, about 40 in all from Wairoa to Wairarapa - this is unprecedented in my 50 years political experience. It points to a growing confidence within Māori communities that their voice can make a difference; and this has been proven over the last two to three elections.
The last election saw for the first time ever, a Māori voted onto the Napier City Council, Apiata Tapine, we also saw four Māori voted on to the Hastings District Council. The two incumbents for the Flaxmere Board, Henare O’Keefe and Jacoby Poulain, are standing again but are under attack from their former colleagues in the Labour Party, who are campaigning against them. As I see it, this type of politics is a new entry into local politics and seems to run contrary to community aspirations. Having said that, there are two National Cabinet Ministers who are recycling themselves, as regional and local candidates.
The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board election is interesting too, as there are nine Māori candidates standing for seven available seats alongside 16 other candidates including the long standing Chair, Kevin Atkinson. This could be a result of poor health outcomes from the District Health Board and people looking for change – or it could be because health is such an integral part of the Hawke’s Bay and everyone is wanting to put their hand up to make a difference. In Wairoa there are 10 Māori standing for the Māori Ward as well as four other Māori standing for the general seat. This is a cascade of Māori putting themselves up to represent their communities and the wider community. In Central HB, Darcie Meremere Tū Ahiahi Scowen is going up against the incumbent Mayor, Alex Walker, which is a sure sign of confidence to challenge at this level. There are two Māori contenders for the Regional Council, one from Wairoa and the other from Napier and they have been campaigning vigorously since the campaign opened, tu meke! Usually Māori candidates are largely unsuccessful in being elected because they have stood strongly on Māori issues only and because our people don’t usually vote; however, Māori candidates presenting themselves in this election have wider ranging skills, offering benefits to all members of their respected communities to which we have always contributed.
It is also good to see that other ethnic communities are represented in these elections. The diversity of this election is quite different from any other, even though there is still a push back from the old local and regional barons, who have always controlled the power over the councils and health boards, and have minimised the success of Māori women and other ethnic minorities.
Our candidates have put their hands up in vast numbers with confidence, skill and pose. It is up to every Māori voter to get in and vote for those who will best represent their interests - whether local or regional councils or in health. Kia kaha whānau, hapū, mokopuna. Get out and vote, beat the feet, honour our courageous candidates who have put themselves on the line again. Politics is not pretty, easy or nice. Some parts are downright dirty and ugly, but someone has to do it and these candidates are your whānau who have put their hands up.
So ballot, not the mallet, vote don’t float, your election papers should have arrived by now, tick it, lick it, nail it and mail it. Good luck to all of our candidates Ka mau te wehi!
Haumi e, hui e, taiki e!
Chairman, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated