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Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP ready to play ball

Newly elected Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Cushla Tangaere-Manuel – whose electorate spans from Gisborne through to Lower Hutt along the east coast of the North Island, and includes the entirety of Wairarapa – received raucous applause after delivering her maiden speech on Thursday evening.

Underscoring a commitment to serving her constituents, she said that while “times may seem dark right now… I will bring your light to this House and to the Aotearoa whānui”.

Paying special tribute to her whānau and her late parents, Tangaere-Manuel recalled her father telling her, “You can do whatever you want. You’re your own boss,” and well as her mother “frequently” reminding her that, no, she actually wasn’t.

She thanked the people of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti who “deemed me worthy of your first ever vote, in the process creating “unprecedented” lines at voting booths.

“You did this. You brought me here; the mana of your voice.”

Tangaere-Manuel defeated long-standing Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri – who had defected to Te Pati Māori – in October’s general election, returning the seat] to the Labour Party.

Ikaroa-Rāwhiti was the only electorate on the Māori roll that wasn’t won by Te Pati Māori.

Tangaere-Manuel hails from a background in media and served as chief executive of Ngāti Porou East Coast Rugby [NPECR] for nine years – the only female CEO or chair in New Zealand Rugby at the time she took the role.

Learning a lot from her time leading NPECR, she noted that rugby and politics are “not so far removed”.

“It was never merely about the oval ball. It was about pride – it’s still about pride – value, identity, setting pathways, and daring to dream,” Tangaere-Manuel said.

Acknowledging the legacy of Parekura Horomia – who held the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti seat from 1999 until his death in 2013 – Tangaere-Manuel noted he was “truly an MP of the people” and contributed to her decision to run for the seat.

Pushing for unity between herself and National MPs who serve within the same geographical area, Tangaere-Manuel said she trusts they will “see beyond politics and prioritise our people”.

She thanked incumbent Labour MPs Ginny Andersen and Kieran McAnulty for their support during the campaign.

Promising to serve her people through “mahi tahi relationships” as a member of the Opposition, she promised to remain “accountable to the village”.

“I said I was raised by the village and I’m accountable to the village. This remains true. The village has just grown to become the whole of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and, indeed, anyone who feels I’m the right voice for you.”

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