Election 2020: Five confirmed to challenge National’s Todd McClay for Rotorua seat

11:02 am on 26 June 2020

Both familiar and fresh faces will be in the running to topple Todd McClay as Rotorua MP in the 2020 election.

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Claire Mahon, Todd McClay, Kaya Sparke, Alan Tāne Solomon, Fletcher Tabuteau and Pete Kirkwood. Photo: Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post, RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King / Claire Eastham-Farrelly, Supplied

Incumbent McClay will again contest his seat, but this time against a new Labour Party rival: Claire Mahon.

Human rights lawyer and life coach Mahon replaces Labour's last offering, local lawyer and sportsman Ben Sandford.

Fletcher Tabuteau will again contest the seat for New Zealand First, while Kaya Sparke will campaign in the seat for the Green's party vote, as will Pete Kirkwood for the ACT Party.

Alan Tāne Solomon will run for the seat for New Conservatives.

Representatives from the Outdoors Party and TOP both said they were still confirming candidates.

More candidates may emerge - the deadline for candidate confirmation with the Electoral Commission is 21 August.

A Labour candidate has not won Rotorua since McClay ousted Labour's Steve Chadwick in 2008.

Chadwick held the seat for nine years, having herself wrestled it off National's Max Bradford in 1999.

In 2017, McClay won a 53.7 percent share of the Rotorua electorate vote. That was just over a 3 percent drop on the previous election.

National's strong party vote in the electorate was also slipping slightly, dropping from 52.05 percent in 2011 to 48.33 percent in 2017.

Much of that appeared to swing to Labour, which increased its party vote in Rotorua from 21.17 percent in 2011 to 32.3 percent in 2017.

Pete Kirkwood - ACT Party

Kirkwood said it was his party that stood up for farmers, gun owners and business owners in Parliament.

"If elected on the party vote, I'd listen and take your concerns and common sense to Parliament," he said.

With borders shut, Rotorua also needed certainty for the future, he said.

Act Party Rotorua candidate Pete Kirkwood.

Act Party Rotorua candidate Pete Kirkwood. Photo: Supplied

"ACT would increase testing and tracing at the borders to keep Covid-19 out and look to open the borders safely."

He also vowed that the party would kickstart private investment in housing "by repealing laws that stop homes getting built, get us building again, and get people into their own affordable home".

"Too many [New Zealanders] have been locked out of homeownership. Thousands of us in Rotorua have insecure housing or are left without a home because of government failure."

Claire Mahon - Labour

Mahon said she brought more than 20 years experience in policy and law-making to the role.

Labour Party Rotorua candidate Claire Mahon (File photo).

Labour Party Rotorua candidate Claire Mahon (File photo). Photo: LDR / Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post

"I've run a business, and I know what it's like to be struggling. I have a deep passion for Rotorua and our people and want to make sure we succeed," she said.

"We need to continue to ensure businesses and workers have the support they need to weather the difficult economic times brought about by Covid-19, especially for our small businesses and tourism industry."

Investing in solutions to the housing challenges faced by Rotorua's residents should be a priority, Mahon said.

"Too many people in our region and our country experience inequalities that impact on their ability to provide for themselves, to house themselves, and to raise their children," she said.

"I want to change how the people of our rohe, and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, see themselves and their future - I want us to build a safe and sustainable future for everyone."

Todd McClay - National Party

McClay said he would continue to serve the community well if elected again because he understood the local economy.

Todd McClay, MP for Rotorua

Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

"Every day we are seeing our local businesses closing and our friends and neighbours losing their jobs. As your local MP, I will continue to work tirelessly to rebuild the local economy which means more jobs for Rotorua people."

He acknolwedged the impacts of Covid-19 would be felt for years, and said recovery would require a strong economic plan.

McClay said his priority would be improving road safety and easing congestion.

"Rotorua deserves the best transport infrastructure. You pay your fair share of tax - you deserve your roads."

Alan Tāne Solomon - New Conservative

Solomon said his party's focus would be on the rights of people, which were "being stripped away", as opposed to the power of government.

New Conservative Party Rotorua candidate Alan Tāne Solomon.

New Conservative Party Rotorua candidate Alan Tāne Solomon. Photo: Supplied

He said "financial struggles" was the biggest issue facing Rotorua, and would be even more prevalent once the second wage subsidy finished.

"New Conservative will replace the current 10.5 percent bracket with a $20,000 tax-free threshold"

"The other tax rates will also have a higher threshold, meaning households would pay at least $2500 - $5000 less income tax every year.

"We would also introduce income splitting for families."

Solomon said some young people were "really struggling with real issues".

"We could all do better to see them more resolute, thriving and giving them all hope for the future.

"Also the reconciliation of our two great cultures. Imagine what we could achieve as one nation moving forward together. I see a great destiny for Māori and Pākehā. Let's fix this."

Kaya Sparke - Green Party

Sparke said the region and country needed a strong voice on "social and environmental issues" which affect the quality of lives and economy.

Kaya Sparke from the Green Party is a candidate for the Rotorua seat.

Kaya Sparke from the Green Party is a candidate for the Rotorua seat. Photo: Supplied

But she said the biggest issue facing Rotorua now was housing, and there was a range of non-market and market solutions ready to be enacted

"Successive governments have failed to effectively combat the housing crisis. This is why we need more Green MPs, to push hard for these vital changes.

"If I am elected I want to shake up the whole idea of what an MP is, how they should look, speak, what background they should come from [and so on].

"We need people from a range of different ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds in our government, so we can utilise their diverse lived experience to make informed and compassionate decisions. We named it a House of Representatives for a reason."

Fletcher Tabuteau - New Zealand First

Tabuteau said he went into politics to play a part in the vision for the future of Rotorua - the town he comes from.

Fletcher Tabuteau

New Zealand First Rotorua candidate Fletcher Tabuteau. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"I am immensely proud of what has been achieved for Rotorua in only the last few years - the establishment of our Ministry of Forestry, Te Uru Rākau, and significant investments in the Rotorua Museum, Whakarewarewa Forest, and our lakefront development, just to name a few."

He said jobs must be created for the economy to be reinvigorated.

"This means support for local businesses and local projects. Money has been unlocked already, and there will be housing, roading and big infrastructure projects coming to Rotorua ensuring employment and opportunity. I know this can be achieved because we have already done so much."

He said it wasn't so much about change as it was about focus - like for small businesses to sustain employment.

"I also commit to continuing the work that has already begun in housing and big infrastructure projects here in our town.

"I believe as a NZ First MP, I have put Rotorua first and so post covid, we have much to be proud of as a community and a real confidence to go forward together."

Election 2020: What you need to know

The 2020 General Election will be held on Saturday, 19 September.

When you vote, you will also be able to vote on the cannabis and end of life choice referendums.

You need to be enrolled to vote in order to do so.

To enrol, you must be 18 years or older, have lived in New Zealand for more than one year continuously at some point, and be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

You can enrol to vote or update your details any time, including election day.

Besides from your votes on the referendum, you will have two votes. One is the party vote, which contributes to how many seats in parliament each party gets. It helps decide the total number of seats each party gets. Those seats are allocated based on each party's ranked list of candidates.

The other vote is your electorate vote, which is based on where you live. This may be the general electorate or a Māori electorate. That vote helps decide who will represent the region - be it Waiariki, Bay of Plenty or Rotorua.

Destiny Church leader will challenge Coffey for Waiariki seat

Tamati Coffey will defend his Waiariki seat against at least two challengers in the 2020 election.

The Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi and Vision NZ Party leader Hannah Tamaki will also vie for the Māori electorate seat, which covers Rotorua, Taupō, Edgecumbe and Tauranga.

Te Ururoa Flavell Māori Party Co-leader

Māori Party stalwart Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Waititi, who ran for the seat in 2011 for Labour, confirmed his candidacy in February, while Tamaki announced her bid in Rotorua on Wednesday.

In 2017, Labour's Coffey won the seat from Māori Party stalwart Te Ururoa Flavell, with a margin of 1719.

More candidates may emerge - the deadline for candidate confirmation with the Electoral Commission is August 21.

Rawiri Waititi - Māori Party

Rawiri Waititi.

Rawiri Waititi. Photo: LDR / Supplied / Erica Sinclair Photography

"Waiariki currently has a Labour voice but it deserves to have a Māori voice. A Māori voice that, without a doubt, will always represent us and fights for us.

"Our Whānau First policy will see 25 per cent of the post-Covid budget targeted to Māori. For Waiariki, it means that 25 percent of health funds will go to iwi, Whānau Ora and Kaupapa Māori providers.

"It means 25 percent of funds locked up in the business and innovation sector will go to Māori business.

"It means 25 percent of contracts for housing and forestry projects will go to Māori contractors.

"It means 25 percent of apprenticeships and employment opportunities will go to Māori.

"It means 25 percent of funds locked up in arts, broadcasting, culture, and heritage will go to Māori.

"It means 25 percent of the Justice and Oranga Tamariki budget will go to Whānau Ora to bring our babies home, reunite them with their parents and empower them to be the best they can be.

"Let's believe we can deliver what is best for us. Believe in you. Believe in me. Believe in us. Believe in Māori."

Tamati Coffey - Labour Party

Coffey said the current government had committed to revitalising Waiariki, and he had ensured it got its fair share with investment in iwi and community-led projects, housing, and free school lunches.

Labour candidate Tamati Coffey.

Tamati Coffey when he was a candidate for Waiariki back in 2017. Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron

"We have more to do, and so do I. I'm asking Māori to honour me again with their vote, so I can continue to serve our people and build on what we've started," Coffey said.

"Getting our whānau and local businesses back on their feet post-Covid-19 is my number one priority."

He said the pandemic had highlighted the extend of inequity in the region, especially for Māori and struggling families.

"As part of a government with a strong recovery plan, I am meeting with our community and advocating hard to ensure we create local jobs for locals, boost the role of our Māori economy in our region's recovery, and give our rangatahi a chance at a better future.

"I'm committed to addressing these kaupapa for our people, and to tackle racism by growing understanding within our community."

Hannah Tamaki - Vision NZ Party

Tamaki said she had a vested interest in Waiariki.

"I whakapapa back to this area as Ngāti Pikiao, and my years of mahi here within the community and through Man Up, Legacy and Youth Nation speaks for me."

Hannah Tamaki, the wife of Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki, will lead a new political party called Coalition New Zealand.

Hannah Tamaki, the wife of Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

She said the historic issues in the district - including family breakdown, homelessness and unemployment - had been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Vision New Zealand brings innovative social and economic solutions for Waiariki but most of all, I will action what I say and not just words and that is the solution.

"[I hope to] bring hope and integrity back into the position that is entrusted to me by the people. That is what democracy is."

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

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