Maori Mana alliance on agenda

Na Raihania of Bridge Pa will take advice from his family to determine whether he'll contest the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat for a third time, at next year's general election.

Mr Raihania and the Maori Party's co-leader Dr Pita Sharples were with supporters at Pukemokimoki Marae in Napier watching the byelection results come in on Saturday night.

Both were disappointed the party had come in at third place behind winner Labour's Meka Whaitiri and second-placed Mana Party's Te Hamua Nikora.

They rejected suggestions, however, that the defeat was the end of the road for the Maori Party. "People have been writing off the Maori Party since 2005 but we are still here and still strong across the country," Mr Raihania said.

"I am disappointed with the voter turnout. Mana did a lot of good work signing people up to vote and motivating them to get to the booths."

Preliminary results showed the Mana and Maori Party vote combined totalled more than Labour's.

Mr Raihania agreed it was a sign the Mana and Maori Parties "should talk".

"No doubt there needs to be some discussion. If you are talking about kotahitanga (working as one) that would be a starting point. We need to see where our commonalities are but you are also talking about two different parties, two different set of ideologies but certainly something needs to happen."

Dr Sharples said the party's leadership and possible alliance with Mana would be up for discussion at the Maori Party's annual meeting this month.

He said his future with the party would also be discussed.

"I will remain with the party. My vision is that there will always be a Maori Party, to have a voice for Maori on Maori issues, no matter who is in government. That's got to stay, no matter what I decide to do."

His involvement with the party would be "up to the people to consider" and would also be determined by "what was best for the party to grow".

"We have to look at not just tonight's result but the whole of the last term, since the last election, to determine where we are going."

He said the fact Mana and Maori Party votes combined totalled more than Labour's "doesn't mean a thing".

"To me we wanted to win. If you look at the Mana candidate, Te Hamua, he's a person who's been on Homai Te Pakipaki (television show) ... he's got a personality. I listened to the panelist on TV who said that his election personality would matter, and I believe it did."

Mr Raihania and Dr Sharples agreed the leadership woes of the party had a hand in people deciding to spend their votes elsewhere. "But Labour Party is also having its own leadership problems," Mr Raihania said.

The month-long byelection did not provide enough time to campaign in an electorate the size of Ikaroa-Rawhiti, he thought. He compared the byelection to another about to start in Christchurch East, when its MP Lianne Dalziel steps down to contest the Christchurch council elections in October.

"The candidates for that byelection will be about to walk around the whole electorate in a day. Ikaroa-Rawhiti takes a couple of days or more to drive the length of." He believed all the Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidates would have wanted a long period to campaign given the enormity of the electorate.

Mr Raihania has experience in tribal leadership, advocating for workers' rights, Maori health, corrections, education and Treaty negotiations.

He planned to spend time with his nine-month-old mokopuna over the next couple of weeks and head back into training for the IronMaori triathlon at the end of the year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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