16 Nov 2011

Race for Te Tai Tonga likely to be tight

11:09 am on 16 November 2011

The Labour and Maori Party candidates for Te Tai Tonga both say they can take the Maori seat.

The battle for the seat is likely to be the closest in the Maori electorates.

Rahui Katene of the Maori Party won Te Tai Tonga at the last election with a majority of 1049 votes.

Ms Katene says her party's polling this election has her well ahead of the other candidates, and she is feeling confident.

Labour candidate Rino Tirikatene, nephew of long standing MP Whetu Tirikatene Sullivan, says he has been working hard in the electorate for the past year, and is also confident he can win it.

While the contest has been seen as a two-horse race between Labour and the Maori Party, Radio New Zealand's political staff say other candidates will affect the outcome.

Last election, Green Party candidate Dora Langsbury won 2076 electorate votes despite campaigning only for the party vote, while Mana Party candidate Clinton Dearlove is also proving to be a strong campaigner.