Ratana progeny likely candidate

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013
TARIANA TURIA
MURRAY WILSON
TARIANA TURIA: The Maori Party co-leader will step down at next year's election.

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Labour is poised to choose the grandson of former Western Maori MPs Iriaka and Matiu Ratana and a descendant of the Ratana movement founder to stand in the Te Tai Hauauru seat.

Nominations closed yesterday and Adrian Rurawhe confirmed he had thrown his hat in the ring.

He is expected to be the only name put forward.

He is the great-grandson of Ratana movement founder and prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

With his strong connections in the church and the electorate he has boosted Labour's hopes of winning the seat held by retiring Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

Mrs Turia has held the seat since 2002. She quit Labour over the foreshore and seabed issue and won a by-election in 2004.

Mr Rurawhe, 52 and single, said he grew up in a railway house in Taihape.

He had helped with Mrs Turia's campaign for Labour in 2002 and later worked in her office.

"We are related. She's a cousin of my mum's . . . Like a lot of others I was not happy with what happened over the foreshore and seabed issue. I did follow Tariana Turia into the Maori Party," he said.

But he did not think it had worked out "the way it was supposed to" and he stepped out of politics in 2005 and his membership lapsed in 2008.

He was chairman of Te Runanga o Ngati Apa and worked fulltime for the iwi, including on its Treaty settlement that was completed in 2011.

Mr Rurawhe is business manager at Te Atawhai o Te Ao, an independent Maori Research Institute for environment and health.

He rejoined Labour at the start of this year but had been approached to put his name forward in 2012.

The Ratana family links are on his mother's side, while his father was a railway engine driver and his grandfather worked in the railway workshops in Whanganui.

The Maori Party will select its candidate to replace Mrs Turia on Sunday.

Labour will choose its candidates for Otaki, Wairarapa and Tauranga next weekend.

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