“Maori party values actually align with the community”

She knows it’s a blue electorate, but Maori Party’s Carrie Stoddart-Smith isn’t backing down.

“I wanted to stand in a general seat for the Maori Party to show the bicultural foundation of New Zealand… and remind people that being Maori isn’t separate from mainstream politics,” she says.

However, she admits that with the Pakuranga seat being held by National for the last 30 years, it’s going to be a challenge. But she has a game plan.

The policy analyst, who currently works in Maori development, says that while there are a lot of National voters in the area, with Labour catching up, voters would be smart to look at who National’s support partners are that might get them over the line.

“I think the election’s looking to be a first past the post kind of election. People are going to pick red or blue for the party vote,” she says.

“National have already said their preferred partners are there existing support partners so there is the opportunity for Pakuranga to give me their seat vote if they are still really hard out on voting blue, knowing that it will secure them a seat for someone who will work with National,” she says confidently.

She also points out that the Maori Party share the same whanau-first values that are prominent in the Pakuranga electorate.

“It’s not just about getting Maori to vote for me, it’s about getting everyone to see the value in having the Maori Party values running through our electorate. The Maori party values actually align with the community.”

She says that although the Maori party is willing to work with either Labour or National for the good of the country, Jacinda Arden’s elevation to Labour party leader has given them options.

“Seeing a younger woman having that massive impact and getting people engaged again, is good, I love it. I think Labour has been idling by for so long that people were losing hope in what they could achieve.”

The mother of three says she is pleased to see votes moving from NZ First to Labour.

“The amount of support that NZ First were gaining, given a lot of the things that they were campaigning had an anti-immigration sentiment, a protectionist economy sentiment, didn’t make it look like our future would be very prosperous or equitable with them if they had too much power,” she says.

Stoddart-Smith says what she wants to see are culture, commerce and community link up to create a thriving local economy in Pakuranga.

“We are trying to get more people involved in business to future- proof our workforce and not just the Maori workforce, but the entire country’s work force. It’s about ‘What are we going to do to create jobs for the younger people out here, and grow our local economy?’”

She says a huge part of this is about bringing people together on a cultural level and encouraging the shared connections between cultures.

She hopes by forging strong international relations in the community and getting people working together would see growth in small to medium enterprises and family-run businesses.

“Better growth out this ways means hopefully we don’t all have to sit in the traffic to get jobs out in the city.”