National MP Harete Hipango withdraws from Whanganui selection to stand for Māori seat

She's just made the announcement.
She's just made the announcement. Photo credit: Getty Images.

National MP Harete Hipango has announced she wants to contest the Māori seat of Te Tai Hauāuru at this year's election.

Hipango had been the MP for Whanganui from 2017 to 2020, and returned to Parliament on the list in May 2021 after the resignation of Nick Smith.

She had already put her name forward for the Whanganui seat again, but in a statement this afternoon said she would withdraw from the process to pursue selection in Te Tai Hauāuru.

"While I am proud to have represented Whanganui as its local MP from 2017 to 2020, I have decided to explore this new opportunity to continue to represent my community as a member of the National team," she said.

"I commend Christopher Luxon and the National Party for taking the step to set up another Māori seat structure. I believe the time is right for the National Party to realise the value of the Māori seats to engage Māori voters and help to grow National's share of the party vote."

"I come from the Hipango Rangatira (chieftain) line of Whanganui at Putiki where founding Māori Party leader and former Te Tai Hauāuru MP Dame Tariana Turia also grew up. We share whakapapa and whanaungatanga.

"I am very much looking forward to an opportunity to seek the National Party's nomination in Te Tai Hauāuru to continue the work of the Māori MPs and leaders who have gone before me."

National's leader Christopher Luxon last month told RNZ the Māori seats did not make much sense, but he was still keen to stand candidates in some of them.

Te Tai Hauāuru is currently held by Labour's Adrian Rurawhe - but he is not running again, saying he wants to focus on his role as Parliament's Speaker.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has also announced plans to contest the seat. She ran in the 2020 election but lost to Rurawhe by 1053 votes.