Labour backing for possible 14th Māori MP

By Leah Te Whata
  • Auckland

Northcote voters are in deliberation on who they'll support in the by-election. Shanan Halbert is vying for the seat and says that Māori should be empowered to stand for both general and Māori seats.

Shanan Halbert's being backed by the big guns.

There are currently 13 Māori MP's in the Labour Party. Standing in the Northcote by-election, Halbert says Māori can win general seats as well.

"Definitely support our Māori seats, I'm standing in a general seat in Northcote, I have a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed mother as well as my whakapapa to the coast so that's about wearing both hats and representing all people is important to me."

He ran against resigning MP Jonathan Coleman last year but lost by about 6200 votes. This time he's up against National's Dan Bidois and Rebekah Jaung from the Green Party.

"It's a competitive campaign we're the underdog of course but the feeling on the street is incredibly positive."

Voters still seem undecided on their preferred candidate:

"Who's that guy? Shanan someone? Yeah, his signs are up everywhere."

"Just turned 18 so I can vote in the by-election."

"A holistic person, someone that can be objective and look for feedback and take other considerations on board other than their own agenda."

Five and a half thousand Māori live in the electorate and one of the issues locals face is the survival of the Māori boarding school, Hato Petera College.

"The reality is that former MP's and ministers didn't get involved in establishing a future for Hato Pētera and while our whānau still have aspirations to keep our kura open then I will support them and advocate on their behalf."

The Northcote by-election will take place on Saturday the 9th of June.