Third contender to vie for Turia seat

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 09:00 25/01/2014

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A third candidate for the electorate being vacated by Tariana Turia has been confirmed during the annual political sojourn to Ratana.

Politicians from most political parties attended commemorations of the birth of the Ratana movement's founder, TW Ratana, in the Rangitikei town yesterday.

Among the politicians to speak on the marae was Jack McDonald, who confirmed he would stand for a second time in Te Tai Hauauru.

Mr McDonald joins Labour's Adrian Rurawhe and Maori Party candidate Chris McKenzie as a challenger for what will be a hotly contested seat.

Speaking before walking onto the marae Mr McDonald said his focus would be on the party vote as that was the best way to grow the number of Green MPs in Parliament.

There were a lot of ways Green policies could help Maori, the chairman of the Paekakariki Community Board said.

"Maori values and Green values are really quite similar."

Mr McKenzie meanwhile called on voters to elect him as part of a party focused on Maori interests instead of an MP who would be "hampered by party politics".

He said he had "no doubt" he would win the seat, though he acknowledged he would have to raise his profile with voters.

Visits to Maori events such as Ratana were a chance for people to learn who he was and for him to learn what their concerns were, he said.

Ultimately he wanted voters to make their choice on the calibre of the candidates, not on who had the most name recognition.

Mr McKenzie did gain an endorsement yesterday from Prime Minister John Key who told reporters he was a good candidate who would "do well" for the party.

Equally confident was Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway, who said Mr Rurawhe would bring the seat back to Labour.

Mr Rurawhe, a direct descendant of TW Ratana, spent yesterday in the front row on the tangata whenua side of the marae. The Ratana Church has endorsed him as its choice for Te Tai Hauauru.

"This electorate is definitely up for grabs and I think Adrian's candidacy is part of a movement back to Labour and a new enthusiasm for Labour, what it stands for and what it can do for Maori communities," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

Also at Ratana yesterday were Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie and Joanna Hayes, who will be sworn in as a list MP on Tuesday.

Mr McKelvie dismissed the idea that Ratana was the start of this year's election campaign.

"Every moment that we're out on the street at the moment is the start of the election campaign," he said.

Mrs Hayes, until recently the chair of National's Palmerston North Branch, will give her maiden speech on Wednesday. Scenes from Ratana - P5

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- Manawatu Standard

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