Crime the big issue for newly elected Tama Potaka to tackle in Hamilton West

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

National's Tama Potaka (Ngāti Hauiti, Whanganui, Ngāruahine, Taranaki, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whitikaupeka) flipped the bellwether Hamilton West electorate blue over the weekend, winning the seat by more than two thousand votes ahead of Labour's Georgie Dansey.

Talking to teaomā today, he says after six weeks of hard campaigning, the election result shows voters are frustrated with the way things are in the electorate, particularly with crime.

“The government has genuinely been soft on crime, particularly serious crime and that makes people, whānau, business owners and others very unsafe.

"That's why media often report Hamilton as being the ram-raid capital of New Zealand because you have these incidents happening all the time."

Tama Potaka wins Hamilton West comfortably. Now, it's time to work.

Last week National leader Christopher Luxon was criticised for a comment made about how the party would prevent youth crime, saying: “If you’re sitting in a garage in South Auckland with your two brothers and you’re thinking about life and where you’re going, consciously or unconsciously, the gang life looks pretty attractive.”

While Potaka isn't dwelling on what gang life might be like, he says serious crime is at a “catastrophic” level.

“We have to eliminate, minimise and mitigate. At the moment, we are not doing any of those very well.”

He says prison population reduction may be a good aspiration but serious crimes need to reduce too and victims “appropriately acknowledged”.

He reiterated National’s strongly criticised policy of introducing military youth academies, or boot camps, as a tool to help serious youth offenders.

“I think what we are seeing is an absolute re-focus on which is the best party to take this country forward. At this stage and certainly in this byelection what we’ve seen is National is a very credible and viable option for all New Zealanders, including Māori.”