Meka Whaitiri

With Labour MPs Meka Whaitiri jumping to Te Pāti Māori and Stuart Nash choosing not to stand, we await their replacements.

In the case of Whaitiri, the challenge will be whether she carries enough personal popularity to win a Māori seat (for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate) that has traditionally strongly supported the Labour candidate , whoever that has been or might be.

IronMāori founder Heather Te Au-Skipworth had been named as Te Pāti Māori’s candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti earlier in the month, but stepped aside, gallantly it appears, to open the door to Whaitiri.

Nash would have been facing a formidable opponent in National’s Katie Nimon had he stood for re-election. The Labour Party’s candidate selection machinations are still in process, with no decision on the Napier candidate expected before May 20. 

In the 2020 election, Nimon lost to Nash with 15,469 votes to his 21,325 votes. With that base to build on, facing an opponent likely to be less formidable than Nash and not contending with last election’s ‘Jacinda factor’, Nimon would have to be the odds-on favourite to win the seat on her second go.

The only ‘drag’ on Nimon (and one affecting Tukituki National Party candidate Catherine Wedd as well, standing against Labour MP Anna Lorck) might be disgruntled conservative voters heading to ACT or NZ First.

More immediately, the loss of two Labour MPs means that the role of Cyclone Recovery Lead Minister, which had already passed from Nash to Whaitiri, has now been assigned to Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty.

He already holds Cabinet status as Minister holding portfolios quite relevant to Hawke’s Bay – Emergency Management, Local Government and Rural Communities. Certainly well-placed, if he has the time to pay attention to our region’s particular needs.


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