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.

Comments (5)

by Iain Butler on November 24, 2011
Iain Butler

I hate to nit-pick, or diminsh the issue of child poverty among Maori, but the 2006 census has 565,000 people identifying as Maori, and just over 35 percent of those aged under 15. So there are only about 200,000 people who could be classed as Maori children, which means they would all have to be severely undernourished to justify the comment that "hundreds of thousands of Maori children are starving".

It's a small thing, but it undermines the credibility of a good article.

BTW, given that there hasn't been a Maori option since the last election, how have there managed to be boundary changes - anyone know?

by Morgan Godfery on November 24, 2011
Morgan Godfery

Sorry, the boundary change occured after the 05 election.

by Tim Watkin on November 25, 2011
Tim Watkin

Morgan, I've heard Willie Jackson say he likes you but he thinks you're nuts in your analysis on Waiariki – that the iwi there tend to be conservative re women and that Flavell will hose in. I think he's said he'll eat his hat or run around naked if you're right and Sykes wins.

But you think she'll get in on the list?

by Morgan Godfery on November 25, 2011
Morgan Godfery

lol, yeah iwi are very conservative in Waiariki. I've blogged on it before. I've deliberately left that matter out of most of my analysis on Waiariki because things tend to get very messy.

But, yes, worst case scenario is only Sykes makes it through the list. Best case scenario is that Minto and Bradford make it in as well.

by Aaron Kirk on November 25, 2011
Aaron Kirk

Ka pai Morgan. I think for the electorate I am living in, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, Tawhai McClutchie has a chance to disrupt the usual votes that have secured Parekura for the past 5 elections. In the Maori Television debate you mentioned, I think he made more of a social impact again focusing on passion and ideal scenarios should he get the vote.

Yesterday, Parekura and Tawhai responded to a challenge given by Na Raihania, and went on Radio Ngati Porou for a head-to-head debate ... Na, from my perspective was desperate and grabbing at anything he could, possibly because he felt hard done by or that he hasn't made much of an impact to the people in the electorate. Parekura, the ever smooth, sounded tired and worn out. Why should he contest the vote when he will no doubt retire within a years time, or less ? MANA's policies sound so fitting for this electorate because it meets the needs of our people.

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.