Nats' Parata deserves to win in Mana, says Porirua deputy mayor
Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly has backed National Party candidate Hekia Parata to win the Mana by-election.
Her prediction will cause ripples as Labour's Kris Faafoi has been favoured to take the seat, which is viewed as one of Labour's safest. The party has always polled strongly in the Pacific Island and Maori communities.
Local leaders suggested yesterday that Mr Faafoi's lack of experience is seen as a drawback.
Ms Kelly, an independent councillor, said Ms Parata's work in the electorate had not gone unnoticed. "The feedback I'm getting is that Hekia is very popular ... There is a lot of support because she's been working the whole time."
Mr Faafoi was a "nice guy" but "there's no history" with the electorate and some voters resented that.
Ms Kelly cannot vote in the by-election as she is registered on the Maori roll.
Samoan community leader Paula Masoe said Ms Parata had won over a lot of Pasifika supporters. "She's a hard worker and we respect people who work hard for our community. I'm really happy that someone like Kris put their hand up. But it's not time for him yet. I don't want the sweat of our people to be put on someone who's not ready yet."
In the past, people in the community voted Labour "because it's better the devil you know".
"With Hekia and [union leader] Matt McCarten in the ring, it's making people think. Before, we didn't have many choices."
Experience was valued in the Pacific Island community, she said. "It's not about having someone who is Pacific Island there, you've got to have somebody who is able to carry the huge responsibility and he probably will. But not yet."
There was a "strong feeling" among local voters that Mr Faafoi was imposed on the community by the parliamentary Labour Party.
"Labour needs to look at themselves because we don't want to be treated like the poor relations. When they look at putting someone in to speak up for us I'd like to think that they've considered a whole lot of other people of our community that have been involved in Labour.
"I'm hearing Kris get a lot of knocks from the community but I don't think it's Kris on his own."
Mrs Parata appears to have won some high-profile support from the Left – including former Labour MP John Tamihere and former Alliance MP Willie Jackson, both now radio hosts. They were appearing at a fundraiser with her last night.
However, councillor Wayne Poutoa is sure Labour has the support to win. "It has been a Labour safe seat for so many years. Both candidates [Ms Parata and Mr McCarten] have good things to offer but at the end of the day Labour will come home. I think Faafoi will take it."
Independent Mr McCarten continued his campaign with a picket outside Porirua's Housing New Zealand office yesterday.
Four supporters will appear in court later this month after taking over a state house on Wednesday.
The Dominion Post