To Meka Whaitiri's electorate, Ikaroa Rāwhiti voters and iwi members say the decision by the prime minister is a sad result for the Tairāwhiti region.
Voter and iwi member Tui Warmenhoven says, “Politically, socially, economically, it's quite huge because she held those portfolios and Tairāwhiti being the region probably with the highest deprivation statistics in the country.”
Whaitiri was the Associate Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, two key economic industries on the East Coast.
“My concern at the moment is the strength or perhaps of the lack of strength of the voice of and representation of Tairawhiti in parliament,” says Warmenhoven.
Despite the decision by Prime Minister Ardern to revoke the ministerial portfolios held by Whaitiri, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri are standing behind her.
“We stand by our own. Meka is a cousin of mine, and she is an iwi member of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri. Blood is impenetrable. We share whakapapa relationship, we are kin,” says Rauna.
Warmenhoven says Ikaroa Rāwhiti need to support Meka Whaitiri and be prepared for the next step.