4 Jul 2017

VIDEO: Little defends Labour's record on helping Māori

9:45 am on 4 July 2017

Labour leader Andrew Little is rejecting Māori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan's suggestion his party has a history of "treachery" against Māori.

Watch Andrew Little's interview with Morning Report's Susie Ferguson in Wellington:

The Māori Party is attempting to redraw the battle lines with Labour ahead of September's general election.

Under a new arrangement signed last week, up to nine candidates from the One Pacific movement will stand for the Māori Party in general seats, mainly in south Auckland seats held by Labour's Pacific MPs.

Mr Morgan told Morning Report that there was "growing discontent" among Pacific communities towards Labour.

"The Labour Party have had a history of treachery against Māori people in this country and, if you look at their track record, it's not too long ago when we were forsaken in relation to the [Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004].

"So their history is well known to Māori, so we intend to reclaim those Māori seats and take some of our Pasifika cousins into the house of Parliament."

The Mangere and Manukau East seats were winnable, he said.

"What's clear is that Andrew Little has thrown his Māori MPs under the political bus. They don't give a stuff about Māori aspirations and the past nine years is an indication.

"It's been to our salvation that they haven't been in government and they will be a further three years on the back benches."

Responding to his criticism, Mr Little said the Māori Party had done nothing to improve Māori lives after nine years with the government.

"That's all words from Tukuroirangi Morgan, that's all he's got," he told Morning Report.

He said Labour's Māori representation was going from strength to strength and, after the election, Labour would have the largest representation of Māori of any party in the country's history.

"If you look at the track record of the Māori Party, they've hitched their wagon to the National Party government for the last nine years, actually things have got worse for Māori.

"Māori are over-represented in homelessness and levels of Māori home ownership have gone down, they've over-represented in our prison system, and yet the Māori Party, who is meant to be the independent voice of Māori, has been there all along and they've done nothing."

Shane Jones' return welcomed

He welcomed the potential return of former Labour minister Shane Jones to Parliament as a good thing, saying Mr Jones would add intellectual grunt to New Zealand First.

Mr Jones confirmed last week after much speculation that he would stand for New Zealand First in Whangarei.

Mr Little did not rule out the party as a coalition partner, and allowed that both Mr Jones and Winston Peters could be considered for ministerial positions under a Labour government.

"I think when you're putting together a coalition government, obviously you've got your potential coalition partners.

"For us it is naturally the Greens, obviously New Zealand First as well."

"There's going to be bids put up and there's going to be what is needed to have a strong stable government pulled it together, and that would almost certainly involve MPs from each of those parties in a Cabinet.

"Quite what the detail of that is, how that looks, would be a matter for any discussions after the election."

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