5 Feb 2017

Willie Jackson to stand for Labour

9:36 pm on 5 February 2017

Māori broadcaster Willie Jackson has announced he is standing for Labour as a list candidate.

Mr Jackson, who was an Alliance MP from 1999 to 2002, said he was approached by Labour and, after discussions with some of the party's Māori MPs and his friend John Tamihere, he decided to stand.

"It came about after I was approached by Andrew Little and I was very humbled to get that approach," he said.

"It was a bit of a surprise I suppose. They've promised a good position on the list."

But Labour Party president Nigel Haworth said Willie Jackson's candidacy wasn't a done deal.

Mr Haworth said he would have to go through the same selection process as any other potential candidate.

Mr Jackson will need to join the party and then get a waiver because he hasn't been a member for the required period.

He will also have to go through the party's moderation process, where his application will be considered by 22 people made up of the council and three caucus members.

That process takes place in April.

If Mr Jackson makes it into the top 10 list placings he will leapfrog most of the standing Māori MPs, but Mr Jackson said he had been encouraged by the support from Māori MPs in Labour he had talked to so far, he said.

"I've talked to Kelvin [Davis] and he's given me a lot of tautoko [support] and Peeni [Henare] has been very good."

Asked if he had the support of the Māori caucus he said: "I'd be surprised if they'd all be supportive, but I haven't heard any negativity".

The Māori Party was lining Mr Jackson up to stand for them, but Mr Jackson said he was not certain he had the support of everyone in that party.

One of the first things he would focus on was getting more Māori out to vote, he said.

There were 150,000 Māori living in Auckland and getting them to vote was a challenge, Mr Jackson said.

"I think it is so important to get out people participating. In the year that Sharples and Tamihere ran against each other they had the lowest turn-out of any electorate in the country," he said.

"And this is Pita Sharples and John Tamihere, two of the highest profile Māori you can get. So we've got a real problem."

He would be involved in areas that he was already working on, such as Whānau Ora and Māori broadcasting, he said.

"But I want to work that through with the other MPs. I respect that others are in there doing the mahi - people like Nanaia [Mahuta] and Kelvin, so that's not something you demand, but my expertise is in those areas."

Labour Leader Andrew Little was a man of principal and his position on Māori issues had been misrepresented, Mr Jackson said.

"Andrew Little is very supportive of Māori sorting out their own problems in the community," he said.

Andrew Little said he wanted Labour to deepen and strengthen representation of Māori.

"There is a voice that is not well heard and that is the voice of the urban Māori and I think Willy brings very strong credentials in that regard.

Mr Jackson days ago announced he was leaving RadioLIVE, where was a daytime host. Last year he farewelled his television role on TV One's Marae programme.