Te Tai Hauauru candidate keen to be part of solution

Tariana Turia's hand-picked successor in the Te Tai Hauauru electorate says he would settle to be a fraction of the political force the retiring Maori Party co-leader is.

Chris McKenzie spoke to the Manawatu Standard yesterday before an event at Te Hotu Manawa O Rangitane Marae in Palmerston North.

The powhiri and shared meal was an opportunity for him to meet Palmerston North Maori and tell them why he was standing for the Maori Party.

McKenzie, a former chief executive of Ngati Raukawa in South Waikato, admitted his profile was not high in parts of Te Tai Hauauru, which extends from Tokoroa to Porirua.

"Certainly in the central area [of the electorate] I won't be a household name."

To counter that, McKenzie has been attending as many campaign events as he can, including a debate for students at Massey University today.

"It's one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," he said, referring to the campaign.

McKenzie had respected Turia for many years because of her courage and the strength of her convictions. He said he was humbled when she asked him to stand in Te Tai Hauauru.

He would be honoured to one day have achieved half of what Turia had in her political career.

"I've always worked in industries that support our people, be it in education or working for my tribe."

McKenzie, who works for Turia, said Parliament was a place where he could help "many more people".

"I haven't always been happy about the decisions made there. Now I could sit at home and complain or put my hand up and be part of the solution."

McKenzie said the Maori Party was not located to the Left or the Right but would work with any political party if it meant better outcomes for Maori.

Manawatu Standard