10 Feb 2020

Jacinda Ardern says Labour will 'campaign hard' for Māori seats

12:44 pm on 10 February 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is determined for her party not to give up any of the Māori seats despite the Māori Party expressing a desire to work as allies.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Waitangi.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Waitangi. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Māori Party president Che Wilson has indicated his preference to work with the Labour Party if voted into Parliament.

The only way that will happen is for the Māori Party to win a seat.

"We're clear that our people align more to Labour and so we are open to having a conversation with Labour," he said.

"If we ever do talk to National it will have to be a big deal for us to move that way again."

In 2017, Labour won all seven Māori seats, throwing the Māori Party out of Parliament.

But Ardern made it clear that Labour's strategy would remain the same this election.

"We have consistently run in the Māori seats against the Māori Party, that is not new, and what will remain absolutely the same is that we will campaign hard for a strong Labour vote," she said.

Ardern said Labour had made good progress on behalf of its constituents and would be seeking to continue that work.

She had not spoken with Wilson about the possibility of the two parties working together.

National Party leader Simon Bridges had previously talked about a resurgent Māori Party as a potential ally.

Bridges said it was still very early days and the Māori party should go with the party it thinks it would get the best deal from.

He would not be rushing to win the party over.

"We are not going to do any sort of coalition negotiations before the election. The way to get a National-led government is to vote National, but clearly, there are other options out there in what is going to be a very close election."

He said he was not worried about a lack of possible coalition partners.

Last week, Bridges ruled out working with New Zealand First in any potential government after this year's election.

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