Tonight's debate had Meka Whaitiri defending her seat for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti with the Māori Party’s Heather Te Au-Skipworth and Green Party’s Elizabeth Kerekere quick on her heels.
Even though the polls showed Whaitiri and Labour with a clear lead, that didn't stop Te Au-Skipworth and Kerekere.
Joining political reporter Rukuwai Tipene-Allen on Māori Television's review panel tonight was policy and business analyst Will Workman (Ngāti Kahungunu -ki Wairarapa) and young Māori leader Julia Whaipooti (Ngāti Porou).
Workman asked if Whaitirihad the will and passion to push forward in politics, citing that as a concern but on the flip side said she brought ample experience.
He also said that Te Au-Skipworth using Iron Māori as a leverage point was a weak one.
“I’ve run Iron Māori, Meka has run Iron Māori and so has others. Event management is not the same as being a representative of Parliament.”
But he was excited to hear Te Au-Skipworth's more "radical" side and was looking forward to see how far the Māori Party was willing to push it.
He noted that Kerekere wasn’t pushing for the candidate vote and asked voters to tick Green Party. Workman believed this was a letdown for Kerekere and hoped she was more forceful on her campaign.
Not one size fits all
Whaipooti said that the possibility of all three wahine entering Parliament was real but questioned whether they all had the skills to justify the role.
“Māori aren’t one size fits all and neither is Ikaroa-Rāwhiti … more representation is a good problem we have”
She said it had to be hard for candidates, considering the size of the electorate, to get around and spread their messages.
On employment, Workman said he wanted to hear the candidates talk about the issue given that predictions were that Māori unemployment would double to almost 100,000 due to Covid-19.
Whaipooti said that while Covid-19 was a big contributor to job losses, it also highlighted another issue.
“Covid-19 has also given an opportunity for government to all of a sudden pour out millions, billions of dollars, which has not been a problem during Covid-19. But the bigger pandemic is the harm that has been caused to our whanau.”
She said Te Tai Rawhiti had always been a leader in negative statistics before the pandemic.
“I don’t want Covid-19 to be the handbrake … if the millions of dollars could flow so easily because of Covid-19, then why is it not pouring even more now?.”