Sept. 4, 2017, 12:25 a.m.
In one of the more dramatic debates of the evening Willow-Jean Prime (Labour), Winston Peters (NZ First) and Matt King (National) went head-to-head in disagreements over many issues and even wandered into the touchy subject of sensitive and private information.
Delving straight into Northlands biggest commemorative day of the year, Waitangi day, Willow Jean’s response to the question of where the powhiri should be held drew emotional responses from the crowd.
“I will tautoko the decision that the hapu of Ngapuhi make because it’s not for a politician to decide,” she said.
Matt King was quick to respond that the event should be held at the top marae with Peters remaining hopeful that it will be back at Te Tii as united people from the north.
Road and rail was a recurrent theme in the discussion with Prime stating Northland has been neglected in regards to infrastructure. Matt King came back that rail has never made money in the North because people don’t use it. However Peters twist on the topic was that rail is a scandal.
“The calculations put out by kiwirail are not accurate, they are political. The figures are much closer to 600-700 million for that connection to Marsden point as well. Where in the world will you see one of the best ports in the country that hasn’t got a railway line to it? That’s a sign of massive neglect and we need to fix that,” said Peters.
When the issue of youth justice was touched on Winston Peters pointed out that women are the most influential people in Maori families and it is women who will help get youth back on the straight and narrow.
Discussions got heated between Prime and King when it came to infrastructure with King proclaiming they are the infrastructure party and have invested more in Northland than any other previous government. Peters also flamboyantly sided with Prime that not enough has been done by National.
The three candidates wrapped up with discussions around the contentious Ngapuhi settlement which has been plagued with issues and were pressed on how they see a way forward. Prime and Peters both criticized the handling of the mandate by National and agreed that outsiders could not sort it out.
“The hapu of Ngapuhi need to use that settlement for things that they think are going to make the biggest difference for their people and that’s got to be good for Northland,” said Prime.
Host for the evening Rukuwai Allen said she hoped that people went away from the evening with something.
“We want our people to be informed so they can make the best decision for them. Haukainga the battle for the north, what a night!”
He mea tuhituhi nā Shannon Pitman