Local bodies do not reflect the cultural diversity of the communities they represent, several local body leaders and candidates have told Te Ao with Moana.
Meka Whaitiri (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kahungunu) is the incumbent Māori MP for Ikaroa Rāwhiti and will stand again for Labour in the upcoming election.
Challenging her this year for the seat is Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Green Party candidate Dr Elizabeth Kerekere. Like Labour’s other Māori electorate MPs, Whaitiri has chosen not to be on the list.
Whaitiri won the seat in a by-election in 2013 following the passing of the late Parekura Horomia and has held the seat ever since.
Born in Manutuke, Gisbourne and raised in Whakatu Hastings, Whaitiri was the head girl at Karamu High School. She started work at the local freezing works and went on to complete a Master’s degree in Education from Victoria University.
She has a strong Māori governance background and knowledge of how Government and Parliament works. She was promoted to senior manager with the Community Employment Group of the Department of Labour and was also a senior adviser to the Minister of Māori Affairs.
At an iwi level she spent four years as the Chief Executive of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated. Whaitiri is a proud mother of two sons.