Maori Party shrugs off criticism

By Lawrence Gullery

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The four leading candidates will take part in a live debate broadcast by Maori Television from Gisborne this evening.

Maori Party's Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection candidate Na Raihania doesn't mind if another party or candidate wants to hurl criticism at him as long as it is "based on some facts".

Mana Party and its candidate Te Hamua Nikora had been critical in some of its press releases of issues around housing for Maori, the 27 years projected for Maori to achieve pay parity with Pakeha and the Labour Party's appearance in the Sky City corporate box at Eden Park.

Mr Raihania said the statements were obscure and vague.

"At the end of the day I think people can see the outcomes we have produced. I think also that misinformation doesn't do well for our people.

"Mana should be showing what they have achieved and a plan to show our people how they are moving forward."

He said heaping blame on other people and political parties would not generate good byelection debate for the people of Ikaroa-Rawhiti.

"Our people really don't go in for that," he said. "I am happy for Te Hamua to put forward Mana's plan and we should all be focusing on positives to ensure people can see the direction we're moving in."

Mr Raihania said he was prepared to face more questions about the Maori Party leadership at this evening's televised candidates' debate. He had been asked who he preferred to lead the party at a previous television debate this month and said it was a question people had raised on the campaign trail.

"At our AGM we decided to have two leaders, people supported that. The other important thing about leadership is that I'm focused on leading Ikaroa-rawhiti and filling the big vacuum (left by Parekura Horomia)."

Mana Party said the criticism it had of other party policies was based on fact and what was happening "on the ground", not in the Beehive.

"Let's be clear, other parties have levelled criticism at us as well," Mr Nikora said.

"That's what happens when you have debates on policies. When it comes to the Maori Party, most people are saying that it's sad that their relationship with ACT, United Future and National is costing the party dearly. Our focus now is on contesting the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat with Labour."

Mana Party said it released its housing policy on Thursday which had been "well-received".

"We want the empty state houses filled, more state houses built, and the warrant of fitness scheme brought into play and enforced.

"When it comes to Maori first-home buyers, we want to bring back the Maori Affairs Housing Loan Scheme with a difference - it isn't reliant on Maori land, no deposit is required, and the rate of interest is lower than the banks because it is at the same rate as the Government borrows money."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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