Rebrand had to happen at some stage, says Raihania

Hastings man and Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election candidate Na Raihania will put his hand up to be part of the Maori Party's "rebrand" after Pita Sharples' decision to stand down as the party's co-leader.

Mr Raihania, Bridge Pa, said Dr Sharples indicated he would move on when the two were at Pukemokimoki Marae in Napier on Saturday, where party supporters had gathered for the by-election result.

"I want to pay tribute to Dr Sharples, who is responsible for a very significant part of New Zealand history. He and Tariana Turia (co-leader) came in with the weight of the Maori nation on their shoulders.

"They have brought us through the past nine years and taken us to a point where we can go forward into the next era. And I am hoping to be part of that rebrand," he said.

Dr Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs, would stay as co-leader until the national council decided his replacement.

Mr Raihania said he expected Dr Sharples would be retained by the party in another role.

"Every party goes through some kind of change and parties need to be refreshed and rebranded. Labour is going through that now," he said. "No party can stay the same forever and Dr Sharples has been very responsible in his decision."

Mr Raihania said his final decision on whether to stand again would be determined by feedback from his whanau.

The Maori Party will hold its annual party this month.

Whether the party's rebrand includes some form of merger with the Mana Party would be on the table at the annual meeting.

A Mana Party spokesperson said the party was awaiting the outcome of the Maori Party's annual meeting and the possibility of "sitting down and having a talk".

"If ever there was a strong message for the two parties to come together, it was delivered when the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election results came in. Mana and the Maori Party combined would have beaten Labour and our people are calling for unity, not division."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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