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Maori Party chooses Te Tai Tokerau by-election candidate


The newly selected Maori Party candidate to contest the Te Tai Tokerau by-election says he will have a stabilising influence on Maori politics in the electorate.

NZPA and NBR staff
Wed, 25 May 2011

The newly selected Maori Party candidate to contest the Te Tai Tokerau by-election says he will have a stabilising influence on Maori politics in the electorate.

Solomon Tipene, co-chair of the party's Whangarei branch, beat actor Waihoroi Shortland and lawyer Mere Mangu for the nomination.

Maori Party president Pem Bird, who made the announcement at Hoani Wiatiti Marae in west Auckland today, said Mr Tipene impressed party leaders with his sharp intellect, his strong grasp of contemporary issues facing the Te Tai Tokerau electorate, and his commitment to learning kaupapa Maori.

"His humility is remarkable, given the breadth of experience he has across a vast range of public and private agencies -- but it is certainly a quality that is to be admired.

"We know we have a lot of work to do, but with Solomon beside us, success on 25 June is well within our reach."

Mr Tipene said while he may not be well known among Pakeha, he had a high profile in the Maori community.

Labour launched its by-election campaign yesterday, with party leader Phil Goff lauding its candidate Kelvin Davis as solid, steady and reliable.

Mr Goff said Labour was very much in the race to topple Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, and that the Maori Party would probably come in a distant third.

Mr Tipene, however, said he was confident he would win -- "I wouldn't have tried otherwise".

The by-election was sparked by former Maori Party MP Mr Harawira's resignation from Parliament earlier this month resulting from his conflicts with party leadership.

Mr Tipene said he hoped to bring a stabilising influence to Maori politics in Te Tai Tokerau.

"For too long now we've had a situation which has made it difficult for our people to have support for Maori politics," he said.

Maori Party leaders were reluctant to address the media's numerous questions about Mr Harawira today, saying he was not the focus of their campaign.

Mr Tipene currently works as kaitakawaenga Maori (Maori liaison) for the Whangarei District Council and has worked with public and private sector agencies, including Te Wananga o Aotearoa, the Open Polytechnic, the Department of Corrections, Child Youth and Family, the New Zealand Army and the Department of Social Welfare.

At 64 he is older than his opponents, but said this would not affect his ability to do the job.

He is the father of three children, grandfather of six, and great-grandfather of one.

NZPA and NBR staff
Wed, 25 May 2011
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Maori Party chooses Te Tai Tokerau by-election candidate
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