28 May 2012

Maori politicians clash over quake help

8:09 am on 28 May 2012

Rino Tirikatene's political record of representing Maori in Christchurch is coming under attack from the woman he ousted from the Te Tai Tonga electorate last year.

Former Maori Party MP Rahui Katene says people affected by the earthquake are being ignored and constituents are still coming to her for help on issues such as roads, water and jobs.

She says that's a real problem because Labour Party MP Rino Tirikatene does not seem to be doing anything to help Maori he represents.

Ms Katene claims Mr Tirikatene is referring Maori constituents to the Pakeha MPs in Christchurch.

She says people in Aranui, Bexley and Wainoni are seeking assistance but the focus is still on the central city. She is asking what is Labour's commitment to the Maori electorate.

Mr Tirikatene declined to be interviewed on the claims, but did provide a brief response.

He says he's very active across Te Tai Tonga and his office presence is connected throughout the South Island.

Mr Tirikatene says he's dealing with an ever-growing workload of constituent matters from people who were dissatisfied by the poor service that Rahui Katene gave when she was in office.

Rino Tirikatene won the Southern Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga at the last general election in 2011.

Rahui Katene has returned to work as a lawyer in Wellington, but recently told Te Manu Korihi she would like to be part of the Maori Party leadership team when the current co-leaders step down.