The results of the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election on Saturday night provide plenty of fuel for speculation over changes to political parties contesting the Maori seats leading into the 2014 general election.
Most of the post by-election focus is now on the future of the Mana Party and the Maori Party. In particular, there's a suggestion the poor voting results for Maori Party's candidate Na Raihania, from Bridge Pa, signals the end of the road for the party, a point its co-leader Pita Sharples rejected on Saturday night.
He's not ruling out, however, the possibility of the Maori Party and Mana Party joining forces. The candidates from each party combined recorded a greater number of votes than Labour's Meka Whaitiri, Whakatu, the eventual winner. Dr Sharples indicated his political future, and that of the party, will be on the agenda at the Maori Party's AGM this month. Commentators suggest if the matters aren't sorted, and in particular if there is not a Mana-Maori party merger, the two parties will self destruct before the next general election.
Mana Party's candidate, entertainer Te Hamua Nikora, from Gisborne, showed he was a strong first-time contender and could have a promising career in politics while Mr Raihania was a quality politician who had continued to campaign since the 2011 election.
Maori constituents must be hoping the two parties can sort out their differences so quality candidates like Mr Raihania and Mr Nikora have a chance of representing them in Parliament. Maybe an agreement between the two parties will include not standing candidates against each other in the same electorates. With the spotlight on the future of the Mana and Maori parties, there's only a short time for the new MP of Ikaroa-Rawhiti Meka Whaitiri to re-group to defend her seat at next year's election.