I’ve always been in favour of contested selection for parliamentary candidates – in my view, and I’ve been involved in a few, the more contest the better. Parliament is not a place for placemen or placewomen, and being a Member of Parliament requires commitment, energy and above all a robust mental and physical constitution – clear values and strong bodies.
So its been great to see the contest within Labour for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti selection. Labour was fortunate to have six excellent candidates to choose from; five of the six were unfortunate in that while any of them would have been excellent representatives of their people, there was only one place on offer in the electorate. I would expect that other opportunities will arise.
When Parekura Horomia was selected in 1998 there were a little over 20 Labour party members in the electorate, so much so that the Engineers Union where I worked at the time was asked to make sure that some of our delegates supported him. We did, they did, and as events have subsequently shown, we were right to do so. This time its different. Media reports have party membership at 850, and the three selection meetings in the huge electorate attracted 180 in the Hutt, 110 in Tolaga Bay, and 430 in Napier.
That’s the base from which Meka Whaitiri, Labour’s chosen candidate comes. And its no discredit to all the others who were not chosen this time – their quality is clear as well. Their time will come too.
Kia ora te whanau te Roopu Reipa.