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Cushla Tangaere-Manuel is the newest MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti

Riria Dalton-Reedy

New Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP delighted to follow in Parekura Horomia’s footsteps.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

It was a full house at Tairawhiti (Hinepare) Marae in Rangitukia on Saturday, as crowds gathered to support Cushla Tangaere-Manuel, the newest MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti. Tangaere-Manuel (Ngati Porou) says she is overwhelmed by the support she has received.

“When I accepted the nomination, it was important to secure the support of my own iwi. So that was my strategy - to get around my own whenua first to ensure that I was indeed endorsed by them before I traversed the rest of Ikaroa Rawhiti.”

Her campaign started three months ago after long-standing Labour Party member Meka Whaitiri moved to Te Pāti Maori. Whaitiri held the electorate seat for 10 years following the death of Labour’s Parekura Horomia in 2013. Labour has held the Ikaroa Rawhiti seat since it was established in 1999. The Ikaroa Rawhiti electorate extends from the northern East Cape to Wainuiomata, with more than 36,000 registered voters. Also in contest for the electorate seat were Meka Whaitiri of Te Pāti Maori and Ata Tuhakaraina from Vision NZ.

Tangaere-Manuel won by a margin of almost 3000 votes.

“It was really awesome to be able to retain the seat in Labour, particularly for the legacy of Parekura Horomia who had asked me many years ago to consider running,” she says. “The timing wasn’t right [when Horomia asked]. It felt right when I was asked this time and turns out the whanau think it’s right too.”

Tangaere-Manuel has nothing but praise for Whaitiri and her dedication to Ikaroa Rawhiti over the last decade. “I’ve known Meka nearly for the whole time she was our MP and I’m really proud of the way we showed respect for each other during this campaign.

‘Showing respect’

“I think as wāhine Maori we were able to demonstrate that you can get your point across while showing respect for each other.”

Whaitiri called Tangaere-Manuel to concede on Saturday night, saying: “I’m conceding because the people have spoken and I just wanted to wish (Cushla) all the best, to celebrate her success and I know Ikaroa Rawhiti will be well-served by Cushla and her whanau.”

Tangaere-Manuel says she has given her all to her ‘Push For Cush’ campaign.

“I’ve left nothing left in the tank, nothing on the table. I have no regrets.”

“It’s been important for me to show up and go back so people know that I’m someone who will listen and follow through”.

This victory is particularly historic for the people of Ngati Porou, as Tangaere-Manuel says the seat is “coming back to the Waiapu Valley” for the first time since Sir Apirana Ngata held it 80 years ago. The Labour Party MP says she used Ngata’s ‘E Tipu e Rea’ whakatauki as the basis for her campaign. “I think it’s really important that we remember the balance of traversing both worlds. And I’m very fortunate that that’s something that was given to me organically through my upbringing.”

Tangaere-Manuel was formally welcomed to Parliament this week alongside other new MPs in Wellington.

Hero image: Cushla Tangaere-Manuel, the newest MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti. Photo / Supplied

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