Maori Party courts David Tua

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 09:40 10/12/2013
david tua std
DAVID HALLETT
DAVID TUA: Says he is "absolutely" interested in standing for Parliament.

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Boxer David Tua is being lined up by the Maori Party to stand for Parliament next year as the party seeks to widen its appeal.

Tua retired from professional boxing after losing his heavyweight fight against Alexander Ustinov last month but has previously signalled an interest in a career in politics.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said party representatives had been in touch with Tua after the boxer praised the Maori Party at the Maori Sports Awards recently and declared he was interested in standing for them.

Flavell hoped to arrange a meeting before Christmas.

"Some of our people have been able to get next to him, I was supposed to meet him recently but our times haven't been able to match up," he said.

"That is the only thing that has stopped us from having a bit of a discussion."

Flavell hoped to do so before the end of the year "and then we'll go from there".

Tua has not yet responded to requests for comment but told the New Zealand Herald he was "absolutely" interested, however would speak with any party which was interested in him as a candidate.

A Mana party representative had also made an approach.

Flavell said the Maori Party wanted to target the general vote at next year's election and needed high-profile candidates in order to compete.

The party also wanted to broaden its appeal with Flavell saying their aim was to represent wider New Zealand, but realised they had to address the perception they were a party for Maori only.

"We've attempted to do that by way of our actions, but we haven't actually probably publicised those as best we could," he said.

"We've got to represent ourselves in a far more open way because that's what our kaupapa is all about."

Pacific Island people, like Maori, had been reluctant voters or non-voters "and so a personality such as David would hopefully draw them out to participate in the process."

There was also a "natural connection between Maori and Pacific people" who in the past did not see any alternative to the Labour Party.

"So standing him in one of those seats makes sense for all sorts of reasons, but of course we've got to have a bit of a yack about whether he might fit and whether he is really interested, and tell him the practical realities of . . . a campaign," Flavell said.

A lack of resources in the past two elections had stopped the Maori Party competing in the general seats which had minimised their effectiveness "because all we've ever done is chase seven Maori seats", he said.

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The party had stood Chinese, Pakeha and Pacific Island candidates when it was first formed.

"It's clearly our strategy to pull together high-profile candidates for our list as well as the general seats, and to widen our base," Flavell said.

If Tua decided to stand he would likely do so in Auckland and if he was serious the party would look at a place on the list for him, Flavell said.

Tua lives in Mangere, which is held by Labour's Sua William Sio with a majority of more than 15,000 votes.

- Stuff

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