Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern launched Labour's Māori seat campaign in Auckland today, pleading for supporters not to take anything for granted.
She received a rockstar welcome from her Māori MPs, with list MP Willie Jackson calling her "an angel".
He said he and colleagues such as Andrew Little sat across the House from the National Party "and we want to do terrible things to the Opposition and then we think 'Jacinda'".
"All we've got to think about is our angel, Jacinda.
"I have never seen a leader like it, who takes something to another level," he said.
"Because our natural instinct is to fight and to scrap – that's our natural instinct," he said.
"And she just somehow gets us away from all that ... she has got that old-style where 'we are better, we don't have to engage, we don't have to pass information, we don't have to tell on other MPs, we are better.'
"We are better as a party, we are lucky to have her as our leader."
Ardern said Jackson had been one of the more surprising friendships she had formed in Parliament but she valued it.
Jackson is co-chair of Labour's Māori caucus and Māori seat campaign manager.
He is a former Mana Motuhake leader and Alliance MP but has been a Labour MP for a term.
The event at Waatea Marae in Māngere was emceed by the television stars from the Casketeers, Francis and Kaiora Tipene.
"If we are a team of five million, then she is definitely our MVP," Kaiora said.
Ardern said the economic effects, if not the Covid-19 coronavirus virus, would be with New Zealand for many years to come.
"And that challenge has sharpened our focus.
"That is why it is so important to re-elect Labour.
"At times of deep economic pain, it cannot be our whānau and our rangatahi [young people] who pay the highest price and we have seen in years gone by where that has been the case, and it will not, we will not let that happen," she said.
abour deputy Kelvin Davis, left, and Willie Jackson, on Budget day 2020. Photo / Getty Images, Pool
"When we have an opportunity to build back better, when we have an opportunity to make sure we address inequality, that we continue to show our guardianship for the environment, to continue to keep our people housed, to ensure that rangatahi fulfill their full potential, and to keep showing what is possible when we move forward together, that is why I am asking you today to take nothing for granted, to continue to show the support for our Māori MPs and candidates that they have earned through three years of hard mahi."
The Māori Party was voted out of Parliament last election but is standing again in all seven Māori seats with co-leader John Tamihere standing in Tamaki Makaurau, held by Peeni Henare, and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer standing in Te Tai Hauauru, held by Adrian Rurawhe.
The Labour Māori Caucus
- Kelvin Davis – Deputy Labour Party Leader, MP for Te Tai Tokerau.
2. Willie Jackson – List MP, Auckland-based: Co-Chair of Māori Caucus.
3. Meka Whaitiri – MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti: Co-Chair of Māori Caucus.
4. Peeni Henare – MP for Tāmaki Makaurau.
5. Nanaia Mahuta – MP for Hauraki Waikato.
6. Tamati Coffey – MP for Waiariki.
7. Adrian Rurawhe – MP for Te Tai Hauāuru.
8. Rino Tirikatene – MP for Te Tai Tonga.
9. Louisa Wall – MP for Manurewa.
10. Paul Eagle – MP for Rongotai.
11. Willow-Jean Prime – List MP, Northland-based.
12. Kiri Allan – List MP - East Coast-based.
13. Jo Luxton – List MP - Rangitata -based.
Other Labour Māori candidates this election
- Kerrin Leoni, for Waikato (Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāi Takato and Ngāti Kuri).
• Arena Williams, for Manurewa (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Tūhoe, Ngāi Tahu).
• Nerissa Henry, for Pakuranga (Ngāi Takoto, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Awa).
• Shanan Halbert, for Northcote (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Whitikaupeka).
• Soraya Peke-Mason, for Rangitīkei (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Apa, Tainui).
• Liam Wairepo, for Waitaki (Te Rarawa, Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Waitaha).
• Georgie Dansey – List candidate (Ngāti Tūwharetoa).