Labour Party’s Rino Tirikatene has secured the largest electorate in the country, Te Tai Tonga, for a third term.
Before it was Te Tai Tonga, the electorate was known as the Southern Māori seat. His grandfather, Sir Eruera Tirikatene, held Southern Māori from 1932 to 1966 while his aunt, Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, took over from 1967 to 1993.
Provisional results show Tirikatene with 8,435 or 47% of the votes compared to Metiria Turei from the Green party with 4,448 votes and the Maori Party’s Mei Reedy-Taare in third place with 3,843 votes.
“It’s a great privilege and I’d like to do a big mihi out to all the people of Te Tai Tonga for putting their tautoko and trust in me again,” Tirikatene told Māori Television. “I’m looking forward to being back in Parliament again.”
Māori representation was slim at Tirikatene’s election night party but that did not deter him.
“My priority has always been about Te Tai Tonga but I really want to continue the work that I’ve been doing in my portfolio areas, particularly in fisheries … utilising my strengths and background.”
Tirikatene’s hold on the seat was never in doubt but he still paid tribute to runner-up Metiria Turei whose 15 years in Parliament for the Green party now comes to an end.
“I’ve got nothing but the upmost respect for her and she ran a really hard race. You know, it was all or nothing for her so I really mihi to her for all that she’s done.”