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Candidate makes a house call

Te Pāti Māori candidate Meka Whaitiri has made an unusual stop in Masterton as she tours her Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Māori electorate ahead of early voting opening on October 2.

Armed with only her quick wit, Whaitiri made a house call to kōrero [talk] with her constituents after a chance encounter with a voter ended with an invite to their whare.

The gathering at a local house was advertised only on social media for friends and whānau to join.

Welcomed with a mihi whakatau [informal welcome ceremony], Whaitiri joined the whānau for some kai after covering the voting and registration process and answering some pressing questions.

About 30 people joined in the kōrero, with the floor open to anyone to voice their concerns or ask anything about the party’s policies or the election voting process.

Whaitiri spoke about how she enjoyed getting the opportunity to connect with whānau and friends with kai and kōrero.

“There are pockets of whānau who are disengaged [from politics],” she said, so any opportunity she finds to connect with them, she “seizes it with both hands”.

Whaitiri is running again for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Māori electorate seat, which she has held since 2013 and retained in 2020 with over 55 per cent of the vote.

The electorate spans from Gisborne through to Lower Hutt along the east coast of the North Island, including the entirety of Wairarapa.

She will face off against Labour’s Cushla Tangaere-Manuel and Vision NZ’s Ata Tuhakaraina.

There are currently over 36,000 people in the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Māori electorate who are on the Māori roll, although 33.3% failed to cast a vote in the 2020 election.

Over 4000 of those enrolled for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Māori electorate are from Wairarapa.

Whaitiri resigned from Labour to join Te Pāti Māori on May 3 this year and told Times-Age she couldn’t stay with Labour for another term.

“My wairua [spirit] had been crushed,” she said.

Since joining Te Pāti Māori her wairua had found “reprieve”, she said.

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