Rino Tirikatene defends Te Tai Tonga in tonight's debate

By Te Ao - Māori News

Māori TV presents its sixth debate tonight as part of Whakatau 2020.  The biggest electorate in New Zealand, Te Tai Tonga covers all of the South Island, Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands, Wellington and some parts of the Hutt Valley.

Te Tai Tonga is another long-held Labour seat and the Tirikatene name runs deep, with Rino Tirikatene's grandfather and aunt holding the electorate between them for 64 years.

Some of the iwi that call this electorate home are Kai Tahu, Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama and Moriori.

The three largest industries for those of Māori descent who were employed in 2018 were construction (11.6%), manufacturing (10.8%), and retail trade (9.3%). Tourism also plays a big part but, like the rest of the country, felt the impacts of closed borders this year.

Te Tai Tonga's debate will be broadcast live today from 7pm on Māori TV, our Te Ao Māori News Facebook page and our website, maoritelevision.com

Who's standing?

This year's candidates for Te Tai Tonga are:

  • Rino Tirikatene (Incumbent)

Tirikatene has been the Labour MP for Te Tai Tonga since 2011. He has strong ties across Ngāi Tahu and to Ngāti Hine in the Far North.

The Labour MP says he is passionate about Māori development and social justice. He also has a strong background in Māori economic, legal and commercial law. Tirikatene issits as the chair of the Māori affairs select committee.

  • Takuta Ferris

A descendant of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou, Takuta Ferris says he is a “staunch advocate and champion of Māori independence and empowering our people”.

The 42 year old has previously worked in Māori education and development and is looking to enter Parliament for the first time. Ferris is also No 4 on the Māori Party list.

  • Ariana Paretutanganui Tamati

Green Party candidate Ariana Paretutanganui Tamati says she is campaigning to prioritise whānau and Papatūānuku over the profits of big polluters. The 54-year-old Ngāti Mahunga and Ngāti Pikiao descendant has a diploma in business and a bachelor's degree in social work.

She says the Green Party offers solutions to tackle poverty, homelessness, inequality and climate change.

  • Raymond Tuhaka

New Conservative candidate Raymond Tuhaka was born and bred in Gisborne. A hardworking man, Tuhaka’s work background includes a raft of laboring and machinery jobs before recently adding politics to his CV.

Tuhaka is 35 years old, the father of three and a husband for nine years.

  • Matiu Thoms

Advance NZ candidate Matiu Thoms has a strong background in education, most of which was in Māori immersion education and Kura Kaupapa Māori.

The newcomer to politics is also a trained martial artist with a small profile in the NZ fighting arena. Thoms is passionate about Hauora, education, and philosophy.

  • Anituhia McDonald

Legalise Cannabis candidate Anituhia McDonald was born and raised in Kawatiri Westport but now lives in Christchurch.

She is a decendant of Rangitane o Wairau, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa and Muaupoko. One of her big passions is to connect and help whanau disconnected from their culture and identity.

The youngest candidate standing for Te Tai Tonga this year, the 28-year-old is an advocate for the legalisation of cannabis and fair laws, as well as personal development for parents and caregivers in the home.

Past elections

Former winners - Tutekawa Wyllie (New Zealand First) was the first MP for Te Tai Tonga (which replaced the Southern Maori electorate held by the Tirikatenes for 64 years), from 1996 to 1999. Mahara Okeroa (Labour) held the seat from 1999 to 2008, followed by Rahui Katene (Māori) from 2008 to 2011.

Some 36,815 people are currently enrolled to vote in this electorate.

The electorate

Te Tai Tonga is a Māori electorate that comprises all of the South Island, Stewart Island, and the Chatham Islands. It also extends into the North Island to include Wellington and parts of the Hutt Valley as far north as Avalon.

Te Tai Tonga was established in 1996, replacing most of the Southern Māori electorate which was one of the four original Māori electorates that were established in 1867. At 151,723 square kilometres, it is the biggest electorate in the country and over four times the size of Te Tai Hauāuru, the next biggest Māori electorate. Twenty general electorates intersect with Te Tai Tonga electorate. There were no boundary changes in 2014. In 2020 a short section of Te Tai Tonga boundary in Naenae, in the Hutt Valley, was moved into Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. The boundary now aligns with the general electorate boundary in this area.

Māori Television will broadcast the Te Tai Tonga debate tonight. Starting at 7 pm, you can watch on: our website, the Te Ao Facebook page or Māori Television on Sky and Freeview.