31 Jul 2016

Mana, Maori Party want seats 'back in Maori hands'

6:24 pm on 31 July 2016

The Māori Party says it's open to any alliance that helps give its constituents a stronger voice - including a strategic agreement with the Mana Movement.

Mana Movement president Lisa McNab said in a recent statement that despite political differences between the parties, Mana was open to putting their differences aside for the good of Māori.

Te Ururoa Flavell and Hone Harawira.

Te Ururoa Flavell and Hone Harawira. Photo: RNZ

The Mana Movement began in 2011 when its leader, former Māori Party MP Hone Harawira, left the party after differences of opinion.

Mrs McNab said she had recently talked with Māori Party's new president Tukoroirangi Morgan.

"[There is] desire within Māoridom for Mana and the Māori Party not to fight with one another, but to try to work together for the betterment of Māori people.

"We are willing to consider strategic arrangements with the Māori Party to bring all Māori seats back into Māori hands."

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said he had worked productively with Mr Harawira in the past.

He said Māori had no faith in the mainstream political parties and his aim was to win the seven Māori electorate seats back from Labour.

"I think it's very clear from all of our supporters that we don't believe that the mainstream parties can achieve what can be achieved by way of having an independent voice.

"That's what the Māori Party stands for, and we intend to look towards any arrangements that pull those seats back towards that cause."

Neither Mrs McNab nor Mr Flavell expanded on how the arrangement might be executed.

But one possibility is pulling candidates out of closely-contested electorates, and encouraging constituents to vote for the other candidate.

Figures from the 2014 election suggest that at least three Māori electorates could change hands, if Mana and Māori Party candidates' votes were combined.

Mr Flavell said the Māori Party was considering this method.

"It's one of the things that's being discussed," he said.

"We believe that we need to concentrate on our own business in the first instance, and look at strategic alliances where appropriate."

It was still early in the election cycle, and a more detailed platform would be unveiled over time, he said.