NZ Election 2020: Three wāhine competing for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate

Meka Whaitiri, Heather Te-Au Skipworth and Elizabeth Kere.
Meka Whaitiri, Heather Te-Au Skipworth and Elizabeth Kere. Photo credit: File/Māori Party/Youtube

The battle for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate will be fought by three women all from different walks of life - incumbent MP Meka Whaitiri will be challenged by Elizabeth Kerekere and Heather Te Au-Skipworth.

The three wāhine will face off during a live debate held by The Hui on Wednesday night from 8pm.

There the trio will debate why they should hold the seat in the electorate which stretches from the top of the east cape right through to the Hutt Valley.

The Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate was formed in 1999 and has been held by Labour ever since.

Kerekere from the Greens contested the seat in the last election, and this year she is focusing on health and mental health in Parliament, as well as land and clean water issues. 

Kerekere's background is in research, activism and advocacy. She is well known for her work advocating for takatāpui and for indigenous human rights issues

Also campaigning is political newcomer, Te Au-Skipworth. She's the chief executive of Iron Māori, an event that was set up in 2009 to tackle growing issues of ill health amongst the Māori population.

Te Au-Skipworth's main concerns leading into this election are the injustices Māori face every day, and the institutional racism she says is present in all sectors. She wants to encourage further whānau transformation as a politician, the same motivation she had for starting Iron Māori.

Both women are looking to defeat Whaitiri who has held the electorate since 2013. 

Whaitiri said she would only stay ten years in parliament, so this next term would be her last. Most recently, Whaitiri has been focused on responding to the mess of slash along the east coast caused by flooding and forestry waste. She wants forest owners to change the way they harvest and stop leaving so much waste on the side of mountains. 

This electorate is keenly feeling the bite of unemployment, even without the worsening effects that COVID-19 will have. There are low numbers of those with post-secondary school qualifications and the high numbers of smokers. There's also only around 3 percent of the electorate who own their own home. 

Housing, health, unemployment - all issues that are felt every day by Māori, so how will these candidates solve these issues?

Tune in to the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate debate, live on from 8pm,  to see why the candidates believe they are the best person for the job.