Labour hopes Davis can take Harawira's seat

Far North teacher Kelvin Davis will have another tilt at the Te Tai Tokerau seat for Labour in this year's general election.

He retired from politics after losing while substantially closing the gap on his Mana Party rival Hone Harawira in 2011, but was sought out by Te Tai Tokerau Labour officials who believe his experience could bring victory in September.

It will be Mr Davis's fourth round in the polling booth against Mr Harawira, who was with the Maori Party when the pair first clashed six years ago.

Mr Harawira had won the seat comfortably with a 3613 majority over Labour's Dover Samuels in 2005 and this majority increased to 6308 against Mr Davis in the 2008 poll.

Despite the loss, Mr Davis - ranked 29th on his party's list - joined Parliament as a Labour list MP.

By early 2011 Mr Harawira had left the Maori Party, formed the Mana Party and was narrowly leading Mr Davis in voter surveys before a mid-year byelection which Mr Harawira won with 5611 votes - 1117 ahead of Mr Davis, but well short of the large gap between the pair after the 2008 poll.

The biggest loser on the night was the Maori Party, which saw its candidate, Solomon Tipene, collecting only 1026 votes. It looked like the 2011 general election could get Mr Davis off the Labour list and holding his seat in Parliament as an elected member, but he quit politics after finishing 832 behind Mr Harawira.

Mr Davis, 47, a former Kaitaia Intermediate School principal, has since been employed by the Ministry of Education in Kaitaia, where he is working with iwi on their education plans.

He declined to discuss his renewed candidacy before he takes leave from the ministry, probably around the end of the financial year on June 30, to concentrate on the election.

Labour's Te Tai Tokerau electorate chairman, Haydn Edmonds, said he and other party officials had sought out Mr Davis because of his capabilities and the contribution he had made as a list MP.

"Kelvin is a seasoned politician now. We are very excited he has put his name forward again because we think he will bring a clear direction for Northland's economic development and education," Mr Edmonds said.

- By Mike Barrington of the Northern Advocate

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