1 Jul 2013

Maori Party says still strong despite election result

11:10 am on 1 July 2013

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is rejecting suggestions the party is on its way out after coming third in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.

Pita Sharples.

Pita Sharples. Photo: MAORI PARTY

The Labour Party's Meka Whaitiri won Saturday's poll with 4368 votes, a comfortable majority over Mana's Te Hamua Nikora who gained 2607 votes. Maori Party candidate Na Raihania gained 2104 votes.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says the message from that result is that the Maori Party is finished as a political force.

"The Maori Party is going out the back door and I really do believe that the death-knell to the Maori Party was John Key endorsing it at that news conference a couple of weeks ago."

Mana leader Hone Harawira says the Maori Party is suffering as a result of its continued relationship with the National Party and the door is open to forming a new party.

"They sleep with National and they suffer for it. It's time for them to walk away from that National Party relationship and come through the door, join Mana, and become part of Mana Maori, and let's all move forward together."

But Dr Sharples and the Maori Party is still a political force and there's no point in joining up with Mana as it broke away for a reason.

"I would say the Maori Party is very strong at this time. Maybe dissipated a little bit in terms of where we are at this time but I would say that there's a big fight back coming."

Dr Sharples told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme that Labour is flagging in the polls and its leader David Shearer is not in a position to say another party is all but finished.