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Election Winner Wants Focus on Housing and Jobs

Election Winner Wants Focus on Housing and Jobs

Winner of the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election and Labour’s newest MP, Meka Whaitiri is singling out housing and jobs as the  major issues she will focus on in Parliament.

Ms Whaitiri won the by-election with a 1,761 majority over surprise second placed Mana Party candidate Te Hamua Nikora ,promised to help Maori get back into employment, home ownership, and higher education.

“When Labour were last in office in 2008 we had less unemployed than we have now, we had greater education outcomes, and we had more people like in homes,” she told TV3’s “The Nation”.

“All I'm seeing throughout these last weeks of the campaign is our people are suffering, they're telling me they're suffering and no one is listening to them,” said Ms Whaitiri.

Ms Whaitiri is glad she got the win and isn’t phased by the smaller winning margin than what her predecessor the late Parekura Horomia got in the 2011 election.

She puts  that down to the lower turn-out that by elections tend to receive, and says the Labour Party is ready to build on the foundation of support they got from the by-election.

“I haven't gone too far off given that this is a by-election, and given generally people don’t turn out in by-elections, but it's been a strong and it's been a challenging campaign,” she said.

“The party's been out on the road with me, they’ve heard the issues, they're working on policies as we speak, and I think that’s a good thing for Labour as we head into next year's general election,” she said.

'THE NATION'
MEKA WHAITIRI
Interviewed by RACHEL SMALLEY

Rachel Labour's Meka Whaitiri has won the Ikaroa Rawhiti bi-election with a respectable majority of more than 1500 votes. Joining me now from the Manutuke Marae is the new Labour MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti, Meka Whaitiri. Kia ora Ms Whaitiri and congratulations.

Meka Whaitiri – New Labour MP
Kia ora, thank you very much.

Rachel Why did Labour win do you think? Did people vote to remain loyal to Parekura Horomia or did they vote for Labour do you think?

Meka Rachel, I've been endowed with a whole lot of volunteers and supporters in this campaign. Labour came out in force to ensure that we didn’t take the voters of Ikaroa Rawhiti for granted. I'm humbled by the support. Clearly the people voted and I'm here and I just want to say thank you to all the supporters out there and I think we ran a very smart considered and strong campaign, and I'm just really thankful with the result.

Rachel What have you learned from the electorate from your campaigning?

Meka Oh there's a lot of hurt out there Rachel, from families, from Te Araroa right through to Wainui O Mata. Housing is a major issue fronting our people and jobs, and those are one of the platforms that I'm standing on, and gonna work really hard, in obviously David Shearer led caucus.

Rachel Why is there so much hurt?

Meka Look the policies of this government particularly. When Labour were last in office in 2008 we had less unemployed than we have now, we had greater education outcomes, and we had more people like in homes. All I'm seeing throughout these last weeks of the campaign is our people are suffering, they're telling me they're suffering and no one is listening to them. So by anything the winner of this campaign is bringing those issues to the forefront in terms of mainstream media.

Rachel That’s said if Mana and the Maori Party had combined in this electorate they would have won. So does this tell you that you know Labour still has a long way to go to convince Maori people that you know Labour is the party for them?

Meka Well clearly our people out there you know had their say last night, and you know we've got choices here in this political system, and that’s what MMP's about, and I applaud that. At the end of the day you know it's actually 1700 majority, I'm happy with that. It clearly says that our people here in Ikaroa Rawhiti are still red.

Rachel What do you think is the single most important thing then the Labour Party could do to reconnect with the Maori electorate?

Meka Well I believe they’ve already started that with winning this seat of Ikaroa Rawhiti. Like I said David has been very supportive of me in this campaign, he's been out on the road several times with me, as have a lot of the key spokespeople of the party, and they’ve been talking, engaging, from the get go in this campaign. They’ve heard the issues for themselves. I haven't had to interpret them. They’ve been in the homes, they’ve been around the community, they’ve seen the hurt themselves, and I think that’s a good thing for the Labour Party, and we're gonna build on that in terms of our policies going forward into next year's election.

Rachel What do you need to do to restore the vote to the same level that Parekura Horomia had it, ahead of the next election?

Meka I want to say that you know when he ran his first election in 2008 I haven't gone too far off given that this is a bi-election, and given generally people don’t turn out in bi-elections, but look it's been a strong and it's been a challenging campaign. Like I said the party's been out on the road with me, they’ve heard the issues, they're working on policies as we speak, and I think that’s a good thing for Labour as we head into next year's general election

Rachel Alright Meka Whaitiri, appreciate your time this morning, and congratulations.

ENDS

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