Maori Party to contest Whanganui

The Maori Party has spiced up the election campaign with the news that it will challenge for the Whanganui electorate for a second time.

Nancy Tuaine, currently chief executive of Te Oranganui iwi health authority in Wanganui, will carry the party flag in the September election.

A Treaty negotiator and former head of the Whanganui River Maori Trust Board, Ms Tuaine also served on the Whanganui District Health Board.

She told the Chronicle that while she expected her name would probably attract some party votes, her decision was bigger than that.

"Sure, it will help the party vote, but the Maori Party has been doing some great work and we have shown we can work with any electorate. It's broader than just our party and we are able to bring a solid foundation that goes well beyond individual ethnicities."

Ms Tuaine said for that reason her candidacy was not simply about targeting Maori who were not on the Maori roll.

She said the party had generated strong support across the Whanganui electorate and she wanted to tap into that foundation.

She also wanted to "stand alongside" Chris McKenzie, who is the Maori Party candidate in the Maori electorate of Te Tai Hauauru.

"This is about showing people that we represent everyone."

The party contested general electorates with 62 candidates in 2005, including Aaron Makutu in Whanganui, who finished in fifth place.

The party is due to announce its full list when nominations officially open on August 21.

Ms Tuaine said that with her announcement her campaign was just starting and she would be taking some time off work closer to the election on September 20.

"What I want the electorate to know is that I can represent everyone."

She said she did consider standing in Te Tai Hauauru when party co-leader Tariana Turia announced her retirement but decided against it.

"Really, it was a matter of timing more than anything. And I had to consider my position at Te Oranganui, because Te Tai Hauauru electorate is huge.

"Another thing is I'm very much committed to this region and my job, and meantime that won't change," she said.

Ms Tuaine said her decision demonstrated the Maori Party had a place as a Treaty partner and she wanted to support the new generation of candidates who had proven records of working for their people and in their communities. She said the signing of the Whanganui River Deed of Settlement this week signalled a new start in the country's development.

"I totally believe that the Maori Party has been an effective example of how the Maori world view can enhance the governance of the nation and I want to be part of that," she said.

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