24 Aug 2016

Māori Party to work more closely with Kīngitanga

9:31 pm on 24 August 2016

The Māori Party is to work more closely with the Māori King movement on what it describes as "key issues for the betterment of Maori".

Māori King Kiingi Tuheitia makes his annual speech at Turangawaewae.

Māori King Kiingi Tuheitia makes his annual speech at Turangawaewae on Sunday. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

This followed a meeting between Kīngitanga representatives and Māori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox in Wellington yesterday.

Mr Flavell said the Māori Party and the Kīngitanga shared the "same key goals for Māori which include battling homelessness, alleviating poverty, creating jobs, and increasing Māori electoral participation", and that working with the Kīngitanga made sense.

The Chief of Staff to the Office of the Kīngitanga, Te Rangihiroa Whakaruru, said with growing levels of homelessness and poverty "Māori need to work together to do what's best for our people".

The meeting came off the back of comments made by King Tuhetia during his annual speech at Turangawaewae Marae on Sunday.

In his speech, King Tuheitia stated he would also no longer vote for Labour as it had shown an unwillingness to work with the Māori Party.

In response, Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the King's comments did not represent all Māori opinion.

He said, in the end, it was votes that counted, and Labour clearly had very strong Māori backing, as it held six of the seven Māori seats.

A Labour MP with close ties to the Māori King, Peeni Henare, said he was disappointed the monarch had weighed into politics.

Mr Henare is in line to take over his late father's seat on the King's council.

He said Kingi Tuheitia was being heavily influenced by his former advisor and now president of the Māori Party, Tukoroirangi Morgan.

Mr Henare said the King could personally vote for whoever he liked but should put the interests of Māori and the Kīngitanga first.

Mrs Fox said the Māori Party remained open to working with any political movement that wanted what was best for Māori, and she was unimpressed by Labour's attitude toward the Māori Party.

"I'm disappointed in the Labour leader's response to the King's speech. I would expect greater respect from parliamentarians toward the resident monarch," she said.

New Zealand First has also called on the King to stay politically neutral.