The Herald reports:
Labour will be relying on former television presenter Tamati Coffey to take out the Maori Party’s sole remaining electorate seat, Waiariki, but the Maori Party has been on its own drive to recruit some big names.
Coffey was the only person entered when nominations for the Waiariki seat closed on Wednesday night, making him a certainty for selection. He stood unsuccessfully for Labour in Rotorua in 2014.
Waiariki is held by Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell with a healthy majority of 9700 votes but Labour is hopeful Coffey will be able to turn that around.
Actually his majority is 3,889. The votes for him were 9,726. But he outpolled the Labour candidate by 18% so not marginal.
Coffey didn’t make much of an impact in Rotorua. Todd McClay won by 7,357 votes in 2011 against Chadwick and by 7.418 in 2014 against Coffey.
It comes as the Maori Party prepares its counter-offensive. President Tukoroirangi Morgan has shoulder-tapped some big names as potential candidates, including long-standing Ngai Tahu head Sir Mark Solomon.
It is understood the Maori Party is in talks with Solomon about standing in the South Island electorate of Te Tai Tonga, held by Labour’s Rino Tirikatene.
That would turn the seat into a real battle.
The selection for Tamaki Makaurau could also be hotly contested. Broadcaster Willie Jackson confirmed he had been approached and was considering it.
“That crazy Tuku Morgan has talked to a lot of people. Tuku will have a talk and then you have a think about it, I suppose. We’ll let you know.”
Former TVNZ presenter Shane Taurima, a former Labour member, is also interested in standing in the seat.
Other names in the mix are singer Moana Maniopoto and Ngati Whatua leader Ngarimu Blair.
It looks like the Maori seats will be ones to watch next year.