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Kerekere: Newest list MP for region

Green MPs left to right: Marama Davidson, James Shaw, Elizabeth Kerekere, and Julie Anne Genter. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

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At number nine on the Green Party list, election night for Elizabeth Kerekere was a make or break situation.

She just made it into Parliament and intended to represent the Maori seat Ikaroa-Rawhiti as a list MP for her party.

Like the successfully elected Labour MP Meka Whaitiri, Kerekere is Gisborne-based but would be travelling up and down and through the vast electorate for work.

“My commitment is to the Ikaroa-Rawhiti people and region, and I will continue to visit people throughout the area,” Kerekere said.

She has asked people to talk to her about their issues.

“Contact me, email me, invite me to your events and meetings – I am keen to be involved.”

She said that being on the steps of Parliament with her colleagues was a great feeling, and she was soon to find out what staffing resources would be available to her.

Kerekere and Whaitiri have already talked about how they could work together on some of the issues facing Maori in the region.

But her main issues for her first term in Parliament were around water quality and Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

She was focused on the party’s four pillars: connection with earth, non-violence, social justice, and that appropriate decision-making be local and iwi driven as needed.

She founded the Tiwhanawhana Trust, ‘The Curve of the Rainbow’, an organisation that supports queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender indigenous people.

The Maori name for an individual with an identity of this nature is Takatapui and it is one Kerekere identifies with.

She also identifies with mana wahine – women of strength.

She is very comfortable with her moko that she created and carved four years ago on the day of her late father’s unveiling. It is ‘waiwai pukara’ – a pukeko, the purple bird.

“I like fighting for justice and speaking up for people,” Kerekere said.

“Greens are not a centrist party, we are about progress, and I am not here to mark time.”

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