The smart picks for the Maori electorates

Picking winners in the Maori electorates isn't an easy game. The Pundits are sometimes guilty of picking the losing horse and the polls tend to do no better. Today guest Pundit Morgan Godfery offers his picks in the Maori seats

With only a few days left until polling day I thought I’d give you a run down on my picks for the Maori seats. Some of the most interesting battles are happening in the Maori seats, or so I think anyway, and the ramifications of a Maori Party win or a Mana Movement win are significant.

The Maori Party will fall in line with National, let’s not pretend otherwise. Turia and Sharples have built a positive working relationship with Key and his Cabinet and, most importantly I think, the Maori Party have achieved gains that can’t be made under Labour. For example, if the Maori Party convinced Labour to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples we would see National stoke the racist fire.

However, when the shoe is on the other foot (i.e. National is “pandering to Maori” as they would say) Labour will not respond in kind. Labour can’t afford to offend their Maori base when they’re polling so low.

Anyway, if the Maori Party can hold Te Tai Tonga and Waiariki the party will achieve some sustainability and starve off death for at least another two terms. This gives National a reliable and stable, key word stable, coalition partner. On the other hand, if Labour and Mana win Te Tai Tonga and Waiariki the Maori Party will not last beyond 2014 and National will be deprived of a long term coalition partner (Act are looking shaky remember). Mana will, if they are to ever enter government, only support a Labour led government.

Te Tai Tokerau:

This will be an easy win for Hone Harawira. Kelvin Davis and Waihoroi Shortland will push Hone close, but not enough to really threaten him. I think Hone will attract around 45% of the vote.

Tamaki Makaurau:

Shane Jones won’t be embarrassed, but he will not come within striking distance of Pita Sharples. Kereama Pene has failed to make a significant dent. Indeed, he doesn’t have the same talents and pulling power as Willie Jackson. I tend to think that Willie would have galloped up the middle and stolen the seat if he decided to stand. Alas, Pene is what we got.

Not to say that he hasn’t performed well. He did well on the Native Affairs debate. What Pene lacks in specifics he more than makes up for in aspiration. However, aspiration is all a little hollow when hundreds of thousands of Maori children are starving. Anyway, the seat is Pita’s. I think he will put about 20% between himself and Shane. A shame really, Shane is a quality candidate. I think he would do well in a marginal general seat. He has that blokey appeal.


Boundary changes meant the former Tainui electorate is now known as Hauraki Waikato. This won’t affect Nanaia Mahuta’s chances of retaining the seat though. In the 2008 election Mana’s Angeline Greensill, who was then running for the Maori Party at the time, ran Nanaia very close. In 2011 it’s a three horse race though.

Angeline will have to share the tino rangatiratanga vote with the Maori Party’s Bruce Mataki. Angeline finds more support in the smaller population centres on the west coast (Kawhia, Raglan and Aotea) whereas Nanaia enjoys strong support in the larger centres (Ngaruawahia and Huntly). Hamilton is split, but the city leans more towards Nanaia. Nanaia can expect to attract strong support in the parts of South Auckland that are included in the electorate, for example Papakura. I expect Nanaia to poll somewhere between 45-55%.


This race is too close to call. I've called it for Annette Sykes in the past, but I’m beginning to doubt this. There is a swing against the Maori Party in the Eastern Bay of Plenty (from Matata in the west to Cape Runaway in the east then tracking south to Kawerau). We can safely call that part of the electorate for her.

Tauranga may swing against the incumbent, read Te Ururoa Flavell, after the Rena disaster and his support for the Marine and Coastal Areas Act. I don’t think coastal iwi will let that one slip. Te Ururoa enjoys overwhelming support in Rotorua, then again Sykes is a “daughter of Te Arawa” as prominent Te Arawa kaumatua (elder) Te Ariki Morehu put it. Support among Tuwharetoa (the region from Taupo to Turangi) appears to be falling Te Ururoa’s way. If Annette can win the Eastern Bay and Tauranga while Te Ururoa wins Rotorua and Tuwharetoa it may come down to who wins Tuhoe.

I’ve said in the past Sykes brand of tino rangatiratanga fits well with concepts like Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe (in a one dimensional sense this is translated as meaning Tuhoe independence). However, Sykes in not well liked in Ruatoki, instead Te Ururoa is the man in those parts. However, Sykes enjoys supports in the periphery of Tuhoe territory (Kaingaroa, Galatea, Murupara). In all, too close to call.


Heading further east we arrive at Ikaroa-Rawhiti. This is an easy call: Parekura Horomia will take it. Horomia is aiming for his fifth win and nothing will get in the way. The Maori Party’s Na Raihania proved strong on the Native Affairs candidate’s debate, arguably stronger than Horomia, but he has to share the tino rangatiratanga vote with Mana’s Tawhai McClutchie. Same deal as Hauraki-Waikato. Even if this wasn’t the case Horomia would still charge home. The man’s a Ngati Porou institution. He attends every birthday, hui and Marae event. You name it and Horomia’s there.

Admittedly, Horomia is tired and, in my opinion, won’t go the full distance next term. However, his voters are a loyal bunch and they reward good service. I think he will capture 45-50% of the vote.

Te Tai Hauauru:

Probably the easiest call: Tariana by a country mile. Over 60%.

Te Tai Tonga:

This is where things get really difficult. Up until a few weeks ago you could ask anyone in Maori politics and they would tell you that Labour’s Rino Tirikatene was on track to displace the Maori Party’s Rahui Katene.

However, the latest Te Karere Digipoll contradicts this assertion and puts Katene a healthy 11 points ahead of Tirikatene. This contradicts an earlier Marae Digipoll which put Tirikatene ahead of Katene. What way to call it you say? Again, too close to call.

Mana’s Clinton Dearlove, or Hurricane as they call him now, came storming out of the blocks in Native Affairs Te Tai Tonga debate. However, his strong performance has failed to translate to mass support. I guess the winds of change aren’t so strong in Te Tai Tonga.

For Tirikatene to win the seat he needs to hope like hell that Dearlove steals enough votes from Katene in Wellington. If Dearlove divides Wellington and Tirikatene retains Labour’s support in the South Island then he’ll sail home. However, Katene’s good work in Christchurch following the earthquake may mean Tirikatene has a tough job retaining Labour’s support.

In my opinion, it will depend on turnout. If the older voters who remember the Tirikatene’s, Rino’s grandfather held the seat for 35 years and his aunty for 39 years, turn out to vote and young voters who overwhelmingly support Rahui do not then the seat is Rino Tirikatene’s for the taking. Ultimately, there are too many variables. But if you’re a betting person, the smart money is probably on Tirikatene. The returns would be greater for Katene though.