20 Jun 2011

Final week of Te Tai Tokerau campaign

9:18 am on 20 June 2011

Candidates in the by-election in Te Tai Tokerau in Northland are into their final week of campaigning.

Voters will take to the polls in what could be a very close contest on Saturday.

The candidates are Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, Labour's Kelvin Davis, the Maori Party's Solomon Tipene, Kelvyn Alp from the Our New Zealand Party and Maki Herbert from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Mr Harawira resigned from Parliament and the Maori Party earlier this year to seek a mandate for his newly-formed party, forcing the by-election.

The move was a risk, as recent polling has suggested the race for the seat is close between Mr Harawira and the Labour candidate, the with Maori Party's candidate Solomon Tipene trailing a distant third.

Mr Davis will be helped with the weight of the Labour Party machine behind him. But Mr Harawira says he is getting "amazing support" from volunteers who are travelling from as far away as Hastings to help him.

Mr Harawira says if he wins, he can make gains for the electorate and Maori - even if he is not part of a larger party or in a support arrangement with one.

"I have a very good relationship with a whole range of MPs from different political parties including ACT, quite frankly. I can work with anybody if it's to advance Maori interests and in defence of Maori rights."

Mr Davis says he will be taking nothing for granted in the final days of the campaign.

"Between now and the 25th of June there'll be no rest - just getting out there and making sure that one percent deficit that I currently have turns into a 10-point advantage."

Solmon Tipene says the people of Northland are tired of distractions and some other candidates are not being focused.

"Hone's got his own distraction building his party; Kelvyn's got his own distraction of having to work with a party that promises, but doesn't deliver."

Mr Tipene says his party's own polling shows the by-election will be down to the wire for the Mana, Labour and Maori Party candidates.

In 2008, Mr Harawira captured 62% of the vote, winning the seat with 12,019 votes and a majority of 6308 over Mr Davis, his nearest opponent.