By Eruera Rerekura| | @erurerekura

The leading candidates in Te Tai Hauāuru all have strong whakapapa to the region.

The incumbent Labour MP, Ardian Rurawhe, is a morehu of the Rātana church.

The Māori Party’s man, Howie Tamati, is a Taranaki and Kiwis rugby league legend, sports administrator and local body politician.

The Greens candidate, Jack McDonald, is a rising star in that party’s ranks.

Rurawhe is the Rātana Church’s main man in politics. When he won Te Tai Hauāuru in 2014, it was clear that Māori voters had returned their support to Labour after the Māori Party dominated the seat for 10 years under former co-leader, Tariana Turia’s reign.

But Māori Party candidate, Howie Tamati hopes to rebuild his party’s brand in the electorate.

Raised in Waitara, Tamati already has a national and local profile. He’s a former New Plymouth Councillor who supported former mayor Andrew Judd’s plan to establish a local Māori ward. He’s also a Kwis league legend who played and coached our national team. That unique mix of excelling both locally and internationally will appeal to a big number of voters in the west.

Then again, young buck Jack Tautokai McDonald brings yet another unique combination to the competition. At just 23, the Te Ātiawa uri is standing in Te Tai Hauāuru for a third time.    

McDonald joined the party when he was 16-years-old. He is ranked 11 on the party list so has a pretty good show of being one of the youngest Māori MPs in history.

He says his most rewarding challenge is learning te reo Māori. He is now a respected Greens spokesperson on Māori issues. 

Te Tai Hauāuru voters have choices.

Three candidates – each with different knowledge, skills and experience to offer.

(Aired on 28/08): Our political reporter Eruera Rerekura spent some time in the electorate talking to leaders and grass roots communities about the big issues facing Te Tai Hauāuru.

(Aired on 05/09): Occupying the seat in the West is Labour's Rātana mōrehu - Adrian Rurawhe. Political reporter Eruera Rerekura caught up with Rurawhe on the campaign trail and found an incumbent who's putting in the hard yards to hold on to his job.

(Aired on 12/09): He's a former professional rugby league player who's tackling his opponents head on for the Tai Hauāuru seat. Howie Tamati is standing for the Māori Party, but he's no stranger at least to local politics having stood for a number of terms on the New Plymouth District Council. Eruera Rerekura visited him in his hometown of Waitara and filed this report.