Sept. 11, 2017, 10:42 p.m.
A packed audience awaited the three leading candidates for the Te Tai Tokerau seat as they took the stage in the first of three political debates held at Forum North.
Hone Harawira (Mana), Kelvin Davis (Labour) and Godfrey Rudolph (Greens) were pressed by some hard-hitting questions from hosts Huhana Lyndon and Rukuwai Allen on the state of the region and what they are prepared to do should they be elected.
Issues such as poverty, Maori incarceration, infrastructure in the North and water ownership were just some of the topics discussed with all three seemingly united on many of the issues
Labour deputy, Kelvin Davis and Mana leader, Hone Harawira agreed that their end goal is to close prisons with Hone suggesting the move to a “Whare oranga” approach in rehabilitating offenders.
Healthcare was also a topic of address with new comer Greens candidate, Godfrey Rudolph stating “our healthcare is in crisis.” Hone Harawira was firm in his push that Mana want to see free health care and education for all.
“Free education and free health is the focus of Mana and I want to know that all children have the same opportunities,” Harawira said.
When pushed on the topic of water ownership Kelvin Davis said companies need to start paying a fee for the damage they are doing to our waterways and more regulations will be put in place should Labour take hold of government. Harawira’s response was plain and simpl
“We want it back. Under both governments Labour and National, Maori get shafted. Maori own the water,” he said.
Harawira also referred to theft of the foreshore and seabed pointing the finger directly at Labour with poignant remarks.
“Labour haven’t apologised for stealing and …. You don’t hear Labour offering to give it back. There’s only one answer, we want it back,” said Harawira.
Moving onto the issue of poverty Davis drew applause from the audience when he said Labour’s measure of success will be how many children they can lift out of poverty. He made points that Labour will move to free up land for more papakainga and put more tax regulations on speculators sitting on multiple properties.
Godfrey Rudolph was also in-line with Labour’s view on housing where under Green’s progressive housing scheme renters money will go straight into owning their own home back on their turangawaewae.
Audience member and local Poroti springs activist, Millan Ruka said all the candidates came with great debates but still held concerns that a solution had not been reached..
“I’m hearing the politicians argue about who owns the water but at the moment we have a bigger issue and that is foreigners are coming in right now and taking our water,” he said.
“They all raised really good points and the great thing is we’ve got some real choices now we can look at.”
he mea tuhituhi nā Shannon Pitman