The Māori Party's Te Tai Tonga candidate, Tākuta Ferris, believes the economic impact of Covid-19 will drive Māori to shape a new future. That’s in line with his party's flagship election policy of whanau first, which demands that a quarter of all government Covid-19 recovery projects support Māori to help reverse decades of disadvantage.
Ferris is accusing Labour's Māori caucus of being invisible during the Covid-19 lockdown, and says the Māori Party needs to return to Parliament to ensure te iwi Māori have a staunch voice.
“I think there is a real appetite among our people to hear a Māori voice and that’s where the Māori caucus of Labour comes unstuck … the time they spent during lockdown being invisible and unheard, our people took note of that and our people are looking for more.”
Can Ferris melt Tirikatene's iron grip on Te Tai Tonga?
Ferris has come out saying that it will instead be a tough battle for long-standing Tai Tonga MP, Rino Tirikatene, to keep his seat.
“At the end of the day the game is that we need more Māori in Parliament, not just the same ones or change the existing ones, we need more Māori in Parliament.”
He is urging voters to think smart this coming election to ensure Māori representation is maximised, “so the way our people get that is they vote for the Māori party candidates because all of the Labour MPs are going to get in anyway because Jacinda is going to win so much of the party vote.”
2017 TVNZ multi-party election debate - Video / TVNZ Youtube Channel
Meanwhile, TVNZ has chosen to exclude the Maori Party from its multi-party election debate, which has co-leader John Tamihere calling out as racist.
“That’s just another layer of institutional racism that gets bowled out against our people and, unfortunately, a lot of our people are not even aware of it but it happens every day,” Ferris says.