Topic: Elections

Chasing the votes in the Waiariki - a hunger of a different kind

By Taroi Black
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Despite the Māori Party co-leader leading in the Waiariki seat according to Māori Television's election polls, Labour’s Tamati Coffey is gaining support from voters who are suffering from one of the major issues affecting many whānau in Rotorua.

Today, a group of whanau wait outside Mataatua Marae for food parcels. While they wait, they express their frustrations about their MP for Waiariki.

One of them told Te Kāea, "I think he's got double standards and that's how i look at it."

But their comments come as no surprise, many of them are Labour supporters.

Many have failed to see the Minister's efforts in highlighting the plight regarding poverty in his electorate to the nation.  

MP for Waiariki Te Ururoa Flavell says, "We have government departments that provide services to those families but the problem is that they are not looking for help because they are too embarrassed. Huri Dennis at Te Puea recently said, "It's the shame or ignorance which is the key factor to these problems.' That's the real issue we're facing today."

With only two candidates contesting the Waiariki electorate this year, a Mana supporter has decided this year not to vote.

Potaua Biasiny-Tule says, "I think sometimes the head needs to be more attached to the body and we've got some homelessness issues here that have just sky-rocketed."

Yesterday's polls on Māori Television showed that Tamati Coffey is leading the way for young voters in the region.

Deizha Solomon says, "He's a great candidate for Labour. He's like helping out with the community and he's helping the rangatahi here in Rotorua and all over New Zealand."

However, Biasiny-Tule responded saying, "Tamati is a breath of fresh air, however, he's too new and he's got to put some time in and actually be a part of the community and do the mahi. He's got lots of energy and enthusiasm and he's captured that Jacinda Ardern effect really well and time will tell."

Last year, the Minister brought agencies together in the Waiariki to face the reality of issue on poverty and find solutions regarding a brighter future for the region. 

Māori Party supporter Mauri Kingi says, "I've seen great work from him in regards to Māori issues and for our youth, but I think most people aren't aware of the great things he has done."