Maori king versus Nanaia Mahuta

King Tuheitia has endorsed one of his advisors to stand for the Maori Party in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate, which will put him up against Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta.

This is a significant challenge to Mahuta and Labour.

Stuff: King Tuheitia endorses Maori Party candidate and tells Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta to step aside

Labour MP and Maori stalwart Nanaia Mahuta says King Tuheitia’s influence over his people will be tested on election day when those in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate cast their vote.

Mahuta’s shaking off the Maori King’s criticisms of her and his endorsement of Rahui Papa – one of the King’s advisors – for the Maori Party in her seat.

Tuheitia made the rare move of endorsing Papa at Parawera Marae, south of Hamilton, on Thursday.

He called for Mahuta, his cousin, to stand aside and let someone else represent the seat because she no longer has any “mana” in parliament.

Rare? I think this is unprecedented.

Mahuta seems to be virtually invisible in Parliament. Maori MPs often do a lot of work under the media radar in their electorates, but being so openly challenged in her home patch is a major challenge for Mahuta.

Mahuta has represented the electorate for more than 20 years but says she has never been “formally endorsed” by Kingitanga, the Maori King movement, and Thursday’s events were an “odd situation”.

Quite an odd situation.