Gaylene Nepia is campaign manager for both the national Māori campaign and for her brother Adrian Rurawhe - Labour’s candidate for the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate. Mr Rurawhe and Mrs Nepia are great grandchildren of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, founder of the Ratana movement, and grandchildren of the Labour Party’s Western Māori MPs Matiu and Iriaka Ratana.
Our koro (Granduncle) Haami Tokouru Ratana was MP for Western Māori in the early 1930s. Our grandfather Matiu Ratana succeeded him in 1945 but died in Whanganui hospital after a car accident. Our grandmother Iriaka Ratana then won the seat and held it from 1949 to 1969.
Growing up in Taihape there were always MPs calling into the house and my brother Adrian (our candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru) was interested in politics from an early age. Our grandmother’s successor, Koro Wetere, wanted Adrian to stand when he stood down in 1996 but Adrian didn't think it was the right time. Now it is the right time.
Our campaign really began about 18 months ago. Our whānau had always been Labour but in 2004, like many Māori, we opposed the Foreshore and Seabed legislation and joined the Māori Party. Tariana Turia is our aunty so it wasn’t a difficult choice. I became national campaign manager and held that role until we returned to the Labour party after the 2011 election.
When Adrian decided to stand as a candidate, he talked to our whānau and extended whānau first. Then he began talking to others – Labour membership in the electorate increased by 400 per cent after Adrian signalled he would stand.
I've worked in every Māori electorate over the past ten years and we've worked in this electorate for longer, so it wasn't difficult to set a well-crafted campaign plan early on in the game.
A key feature of our campaign is data! It's crucial in helping us to identify our supporters, and undecided voters. It helps us to talk about the right things with the right people; as well as helping to use the right medium to reach them. And by doing this, we're able to conserve our resources.
Much of our targeting will be geographical, simply because of the size of our electorate. But we're also targeting reluctant voters. They're part of the "missing million" and we need to do our best to include them.
We've been working to find co-ordinators for five key areas of our electorate - coordinators will be responsible for running the campaign in their designated areas. And recruiting volunteers and seeking donors are activities that will continue throughout the campaign.
We’re getting really good support from other teams too. We are working with Nanaia’s team; we’ve worked with Penny Gaylor’s team (Taranaki-King Country), and Jamie Strange’s team (Taupo).
We'd love for you to get involved with our campaign. Can you? Fill out the form here and we'll be in touch with you.