New MP beneficiary of ‘generational shift’

Te Tai Tonga MP Tākuta Ferris. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Te Tai Tonga MP Tākuta Ferris. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
In a night of surprise results, one of the biggest bombshells came in Te Tai Tonga, where Te Pati Maori caused a monumental upset.

It was second time lucky for Takuta Ferris, who unsuccessfully challenged Labour’s Rino Tirikatene in 2020.

His 1463 majority wiped out the winning margin of 6855 which Mr Tirikatene had enjoyed in 2020, and then some.

"There has been a lot of energy coming forth from the younger generation of Maori ... there is a whole shift and it’s very good, a huge number," Mr Ferris said.

"People who went to the first kohanga reo are now raising families of their own.

"They are educated, they just needed the door opened, so I do feel that there has been a generational shift."

Mr Ferris said despite the emphatic winning margin Mr Tirikatene had racked up in 2020, he and party hierarchy had felt the sitting MP could be vulnerable this year.

"We had a look at all the numbers. The Maori Party had been consistent at about 4500 and in our first crack we got about 7500. We almost doubled our vote, even though Labour had a huge surge," he said.

"When we found out that the Greens weren’t standing a candidate, and they got about 3000 votes last time, we knew that there were 3000-4000 votes up for grabs and that Rino would come back down again.

"We put as much effort in as we could, and here we are."

Mr Ferris’ win capped a great night for Te Pati Maori, which has built from a precarious two seat presence in Parliament in 2020 to hold four electorate seats with solid majorities.

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke.
Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke.
In doing so they upset two establishment names in Maoridom; Mr Tirikatene’s family has provided the MP for Te Tai Tonga (formerly Southern Maori) for decades, while in Hauraki-Waikato, Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke defeated Nanaia Mahuta, an MP since 1996 and someone with close links to the Maori King movement.

Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi also won their seats.

Labour convincingly won Ikaroa-Rāwhiti (Cushla Tangaere-Manuel) but only held on narrowly in Te Tai Tokerau (Kelvin Davis) and Tāmaki Makaurau (Peeni Henare).

Mr Tirikatene, who will remain an MP by the virtue of his high list placing, was in a philosophical mood yesterday.

"That’s politics. The tide brings you in and the tide takes you out."

The people had had their say and there had been a tidal change against Labour in the Maori seats, Mr Tirikatene said.

"Congratulations to the new members, but I shall be joining our team with renewed vigour tomorrow and Tuesday . . . no-one likes to lose, it is obviously a disappointment, but I’ve had a great run and it has been a great privilege to represent Te Tai Tonga for the last 12 years."


The numbers

Electorate vote
—  Tākuta Ferris 9426 (majority 1463)
—  Rino Tirikatene  7963
—  Rebecca Robin (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis)  2056
—  Geoffrey Karena Fuimaono Puhi (Independent)  646

Party vote
—  Labour  7759
—  Te Pāti Māori  4471
—  Green  3372
—  National  1860 , Political editor