Māori Party selects Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for critical Te Hauāuru seat

Debbie Packer, Maori party selection

The Māori Party has kicked off its comeback bid, selecting its first candidate in the electorate once held by party founder Dame Tariana Turia.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer was selected as the candidate in the Māori electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru for the 2020 election at the party’s annual meeting at Whangaehu Marae near Whanganui.

Ngarewa-Packer has the endorsement of Turia, who held the seat for 12 years before retiring in 2014 when Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe won the seat.

It was the seat in which the contest between Labour and Māori Party was closest in 2017 – Rurawhe held it over the Māori Party’s Howie Tamati by just 1039 votes.

Ngarewa-Packer’s selection was greeted with cheers from those at the meeting, and she told them she did not underestimate the job ahead but she was there to fight.

The selection also puts Ngawera-Packer in a strong position to be the party’s next female co-leader. Those positions will be decided by late January.

Ngarewa-Packer is the chief executive of the Taranaki-based Ngati Ruanui iwi.

She is well known for her campaign against iron sands mining from the seabed off the coast of Taranaki – a four-year battle she took to the courts.

Ngarewa-Packer said that was a “David and Goliath battle” that had prepared her for what lay ahead as the Māori Party tried to take seats back from Labour.

“We are here to fight. It’s not going to be easy. We have a machinery that is up against us, and we have empty coffers.

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By: Claire Trevett Senior Politics Writer, NZ Herald

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