Labour's 'Pania of the Reef'

  • 26/04/2011

By Patrick Gower

"Pania of the Reef" was a beautiful maiden who lived in the sea on the East Coast.

You will know the beautiful statue on Napier's Marine Parade.

It’s no wonder Labour is looking to Pania for help in the upcoming election and the battle of the Maori seats.

How? Via its potential candidate for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat out on the Coast, Meka Whaitiri.


Whaitiri's mother , Mei, was the model for the statue when it was built back in 1954.

Now the kaumatua and legend Parekura Horomia is considering standing down from Ikaroa-Rawhiti. He'll come back to Parliament on the list.

That would leave the seat free.

And Meka Whaitiri is one of the potential candidates being talked up to put her name forward - and her credentials extend far beyond her links to Pania of the Reef.

She is chief executive for Ngati Kahungunu Iwi - that's the tribe on the East Coast.

She's got over a quarter of a century experience in the public sector, including working in the office of the Minister of Maori Affairs - a certain Mr Horomia.

She's been a Treaty Negotiator.

Her family is extremely well-known on the Coast and up the Bay.

Sounds like a pretty good candidate for me.

Parekura Horomia has until early in May to make his decision - he could run again. There are said to be three or four others who might want the job.

What we do know is Ikaroa-Rawhiti is now shaping as a major electoral battleground with a three-way race.

We know that Mereana Pitman is keen to stand for Hone Harawira's Maori Party.


She is a Harawira loyalist, Maori sovereignty campaigner and recently a Maori Party member.

She took on Pem Bird for the Presidency at last year's national hui as the party started to fracture down the middle. Pem Bird got the job and got rid of Harawira.

She's one of Harawira's inspirations and highly regarded for her work with Women's Refuge.

Na Rongowhakaata Raihania has been in place for the Maori Party for a while and he'll give it a decent candidate.

The Mana Party/Maori party split may actually make it easier for Labour.

Everyone is trying to figure out what these three-way races will mean in the Maori electorates. Who knows? But they will be massive scraps.

You've got Shane Jones, Pita Sharples and Hone's man/woman going at it in Tamaki Makarau.

And now it looks like you've got Annette Sykes about to go at it for the Mana Party with the Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell and Labour's Louis Te Kani.

So if Parekura goes Labour will want someone good in place like Meka Whaitiri.

source: newshub archive