Māori students split on 'Ardern Effect'

By Heeni Brown

Māori students attending the annual Māori Students Conference known as Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana Ākonga are preparing themselves for Election Day, with some being affected by the 'Jacinda Ardern' effect.

University of Victoria accounting student Elijah Pue sees Labour's change in leadership being a front and will not be voting in favour of the 'Ardern Effect'.

The 23-year-old proud Whanganui descendant says, "Only the heads have changed. Labour still carries the same policies, they're still mainstream policies and they haven't changed."

"I'm voting for the Māori Party because everything about them is Māori. Their policies are Māori, the members are Māori and the culture is very much Māori."

Meanwhile, Auckland University Honours' student Mohi Arena is splitting his vote.

The 23-year-old Ngāpuhi says, "When it comes to Labour they're going to give us a free fees first year at University, but I'm still troubled with their stance on fresh water rights."

The Te Taitokerau constituent is also keen on a 'two for one' deal. He wants a candidate vote for Mana Movement's Hone Harawira and a party vote for Labour because Te Taitokerau incumbent Kelvin Davis is at number two on Labour's party list.

"Kelvin Davis says everyone owns water and I think that's completely wrong so I'll be supporting Hone Harawira as well, who says Māori own fresh water."

But Otago University's Te Rōpū Māori Tumuaki Eli Toeke is backing Labour all the way.  

30-year-old Toeke who is also studying his third degree says, "I think they can reverse what they did with the Takutai Moana, it's an opportunity for them to gain the confidence of Māori once again."

And Te Mana Ākonga co-Chair 23-year-old Geneveine Wilson, who is also helping lead the annual Huinga Tauira conference says the 'Ardern Effect' is an effective way to change this year's Government.
Wilson of Ngāti Porou says, "At this point in time Labour, and I think it's because we're ready to see a change in Government and I think that Labour can bring the change that we need at this point in time and hopefully with a Green and Māori Party coalition."

Tomorrow Kelvin Davis, NZ First's Pita Paraone, Hone Harawira and Green Party's Marama Davidson will front to the assembly of 270 students in the week long's conference's Political Panel.