By Ripeka Timutimu|| @ripekatimutimu

If this year’s election was Te Matatini, the theme would be Te Matatini o Te Haupūkeri or The many faces in turbulent winds.

Labour Party have their new manukura wahine, Jacinda Ardern, and after a wobbly whakaeke following the ousting of former leader Andrew Little, she’s set the tone for the rest of their bracket – whakapono, tumanako me te aroha – and her warm-fuzzy messages of confidence, hope, and compassion seem to be resonating with a tough crowd.  

The National Party on the other hand are putting their faith in their new Manukura tane, Bill English. But it seems they’re singing the same old tune. Scare-mongering tactics over treaty claims, water rights, and boot camps for troubled rangatahi is an arrangement that isn’t hitting the mark with the masses.

The Māori Party have a stand out performer and crowd favourite, and that’s Marama Fox. In a duet with Te Ururoa Flavell, the shark and the fox could rival any group on the Matatini atamira, or any adversary in the lion’s den at Parliament.

The Greens are perennial crowd favourite with Māori. But with the departure of one of their staunchest and longest serving performers, Metiria Turei, they’ve a taken a knock in the polls and are now fighting to stay at the top of their game.

ACT and United Future are this year’s hotdog groups. They have little or no relevance to Māori, and the audience is really just waiting for their whakawātea so they can sit back, relax and watch the rest of the show stoppers.

Like the Mana Party led by Hone Harawira. Mana is a kapa that’s fighting to get back to the upper echelons of former years. Hone cuts through political rhetoric to issues of poverty and homelessness with the flick of his taiaha.

Then cue NZ First. Winston Peters is the veteran performer swooning to the crowd. Usually a solo act, this year he’s enlisted waka jumper, Shane Jones as the heir apparent to the hako role. Meanwhile veteran performers Ron Mark and Pita Paraone have been relegated to the back row.

NZ First won’t win the overall aggregate, but come prize giving on September 23, the crowd will be a little bemused that Winston has the final say in anointing a winner.

… like the epic themes you see expressed on the atamira at Te Matatini, it’ll be similar story on the hustings throughout Aotearoa.

Nō reira, kia tu, kia oho, kia mataara - he pakanga te haere ake nei

So, grab a seat, tune in and look out  – it’s going to be a ding-dong battle.