Rurawhe Labour's hope in 2014 poll

Former Ngati Apa chairman Adrian Rurawhe is to be the Labour Party's candidate for the Te Tai Hauauru seat at next year's election.

His selection is to be confirmed at a hui at Ratana Pa tonight.

Mr Rurawhe led the Rangitikei iwi from 2002-12, during its treaty settlement process. He also has a list of other health and education roles. He's a great-grandson of the founder of the Ratana movement, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, and the grandson of the Labour Party's Western Maori MPs Matiu and Iriaka Ratana.

Soraya Peke-Mason, the Labour candidate for the electorate in 2011, has stepped aside and Mr Rurawhe is the only nomination.

The decision on whether to stand was left to Mrs Peke-Mason.

"I would like to step aside and allow Adrian to come through. I have consciously made the decision not to run for selection in the best interest of unity and the bigger picture for Maoridom," she said.

Mrs Peke-Mason will stand for Parliament on the Labour list.

"We will be working together on a campaign to get the candidate vote for Te Tai Hauauru and also the party vote," Mr Rurawhe said.

He is standing as a candidate and not on the list, because he wants a mandate from the electorate.

He's not sure whether Mana will stand a Te Tai Hauauru candidate, and said support for the Maori Party was declining.

Maori, Mana and Green party votes were all up for grabs.

The old ties between Ratana and Labour were under pressure, but not broken, and the Labour vote had been consistent, he said.

Mr Rurawhe has a good network of connections and is known from South Taranaki to Horowhenua - the middle of the large electorate.

He brings a strong campaign team of family and supporters across from the Maori Party, including his sister and campaign manager Gaylene Nepia, a former Maori Party strategist.

Mr Rurawhe is 52 years old, single and lives at Whangaehu. He was brought up in a railway house at Taihape and his father was an engine driver. He started working for the railways at the age of 17, and was made redundant in 1991.

His family had a long association with Labour, but like Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, he left it over the foreshore and seabed issue. He supported the Maori Party, but became inactive about 2005 when the Ngati Apa treaty settlement negotiations claimed most of his time.

In 2008 he left the Maori Party when it supported National in government. The results of that alliance were bad for Maori, he said.

Youth unemployment had risen, and there were changes to welfare provision.

"The Maori Party are sitting at their table while these things are happening and there's very little being said about it, probably be cause they hold associate ministerials in those sectors."

National's support of ironsand mining and deep sea oil drilling off Taranaki also concerned him, because he's heard emergency response plans are inadequate. The electorate had a long coastline, and a spill would affect it for years, he said.

"The Maori Party have said they disagree with all those things but every year they vote to give the National Party confidence and supply of the money that allows the government to do all of those things."

He said divisions within the Maori Party surfaced when Hone Harawira left it, and Ratana supporters didn't like having its latest leadership battle happen on their marae.

Mr Rurawhe decided to stand for the Te Tai Hauauru seat in January, and joined the Labour Party.

He said David Cunliffe was a dynamic leader and the party now had a policy platform that wouldn't allow the foreshore and seabed issue to play out in the same way.

His current job is as business manager for Te Atawhai o te Ao, a Maori health and environmental research unit based in Wanganui. He said he would give it up to be an MP, and had politics in his blood.

- by Laurel Stowell of the Wanganui Chronicle

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