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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maori Party scrambling to fire up electorate machine

The Maori Party has set itself a deadline of three weeks at the latest to rebuild its election machine in Te Tai Tokerau.

President Pem Bird says incumbent Hone Harawira's resignation and forcing of a June 25 by-election is a breach of the agreement made when he left the Maori Party, so it has no option but to stand a candidate.

He says branches need to be reestablished and a candidate chosen as soon as possible.

“We're at a little bit of a disadvantage here because everyone knows about Hone, Kelvin is already there. The important thing is we have a process we are going through. It will take more than a day or two to get people in place, the infrastructure in place,” Mr Bird says.

The last day for nominations is May 31.

PROTESTS BLOCK HARAWIRA LAW SCHOOL SPEECH

Meanwhile, Hone Harawira says he's disappointed opposition from Young Nationals led to the cancellation of a speech he was due to give today to Auckland University Maori law students.

Mr Harawira says it brings back memories of He Taua, when he was part of a group which put an end to the engineering student's annual practice of holding a racially offensive haka party.

“Thirty years ago the rednecks were trying to put us down and we sorted them out quick smart. I can’t believe that in 2011 Maori students are caving in again. That whole thing about how the media beat up, putting my photo up there alongside Osama Bin Laden and all tat bullshit, is really having an impact eh on a lot of those pakeha rednecks,” he says.

HOME INSULATION SCHEME REACHES 100,000 HOUSES

Otago University's He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme is giving a cautious thumbs up to the Warm Up New Zealand home insulation programme.

Hekia Parata, the acting Energy and Resources Minister, says 100,000 houses have now been insulated.

He Kainga Oranga director Phillippa Howden-Chapman says the unit is still collating data on hospitalisations for respiratory illness, power costs and job creation, but initial indications are the scheme is a good example of New Zealanders working together for the community.

She says the scheme has a sound scientific basis, and public health organisations have made the effort to refer a lot of low income Maori and Pacific households to the scheme.

The report on the Warm Up scheme should be out by the end of the year.

LOCAL AND NATIONAL ISSUES IN BY-ELECTION MIX

Labour list MP Kelvin Davis is expecting a mix of local and national issues to dominate the Te Tai Tokerau by-election.

Mr Davis intends to wrest the seat from Hone Harawira on June 25, with the Maori party yet to pick its candidate,

He says in an electorate that stretches from west Auckland to North Cape, there is huge range of local issues.

“Around Kaeo there’s the flooding. Dargaville there’s the whole Kaipara turbines issue. There’s the drilling off the west coast of the North Island. There’s the rail link from Whangarei to Auckland. There’s a whole lot of local issues people are talking about but the main thing is people are just really struggling with the rising cost of living and having trouble finding work,” Mr Davis says.

BACK TO SCHOOL ADVICE FROM RIVAL

But Hone Harawira says Kelvin Davis should go back to school teaching because he is not leadership material.

Mr Harawira who beat Mr Davis by more than two votes to one in the 2008 general election, and he's counting on keeping enough of that vote to keep out the Labour and Maori party challengers.

He says the younger man hasn't featured in any poll held in the electorate.

“Kelvin's a good man and a hard worker but he’s never been recognised as a leader in Tai Tokerau or as a person who is going to take Tai Tokerau issues to any level. He was an excellent principal before he came into politics and I would dearly like to see him go back to that because if we need people anywhere it’s in schools. I think Kelvin would be great back out in the schools,” Mr Harawira says.

CROWDS TURN OUT FOR MAORI EXPO

Auckland University of Technology is rating its 14th Maori Expo another triumph.
Vice chancellor Derek McCormack says more than 20,000 rangatahi packed out Vector Arena to find out what universities, polytechnics and wananga, as well as major employers could offer them.

He says the Expos were started out of concern young people don't get enough exposure to Maori success and achievement.

“Building on that was the notion of an encouragement for young Maori to go on and develop their capabilities and build their futures and their careers by getting into tertiary and higher education,” Mr McCormack says.

The students were particularly keen about the TV New Zealand booth, which allowed them to try out their skills as a television present.

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