'I'm standing for my tamariki' - Tākuta Ferris vies for Te Tai Tonga

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen
From left Tākuta Ferris, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi and John Tamihere - Photo / File

The Māori Party’s Te Tai Tonga candidate, Tākuta Ferris says he’s standing for his tamariki.

He says there is too much to work towards for him not to step in to make a better future for his three children.

“There’s privilege in this country and it’s built on the disadvantaging of Māori.

“There are layers of the system that we have to undo.”

He spoke to a sold-out audience at the Te Tai Tonga - Māori Party Leaders dinner at the Wellington Club, urging those in attendance to do what they can to get whānau on board and "get a van and drive them to the voting booths."

Those in attendance included Māori Party founder Dame Tariana Turia, leader John Tamihere and Tai Tokerau candidate Mariameno Kapa-Kingi.

Voting safe?

"It takes the support of the iwi. So here’s the challenge, we have to go and build that support."

Politics hadn't been on the cards for the young hopeful but he says sometimes it came down to who was asking him to step up. "If you had asked me in the middle of January if I’m going into politics, then I would’ve said 'hell no’,  Ferris says.

Leader John Tamihere has suggested Māori Labour MPs are safe even if they lose their electorates because they are high on the party list, saying, "Kelvin Davis is No 2 in Tai Tokerau, Rino Tirikatene is high on the list, he’s getting in, and Peeni Henare is in. He’s being groomed to be the next Parekura."

The difficulty for the Māori Party may be that with all Māori seat incumbents are part of the most popular party in the country, Labour, voters may decide there is a level of safety with Jacinda at the helm.

The first time the Māori Party was in Parliament was after Helen Clarke’s Labour-led government pushed Māori to the point of protest over the Foreshore and Seabed Act, an event that saw one of Labour’s strongest and leading Māori politicians, Tariana Turia, cross the floor and start the Māori party alongside Pita Sharples. John Tamihere, then in Labour, voted in favour of the controversial act.

Ferris will be going head to head with long-serving Labour politician Rino Tirikatene, who has held Te Tai Tonga since 2011.