Field faithful ready to leave Labour after talks with MP

By Audrey Young, Paula Oliver

Taito Phillip Field loyalists are poised to break away from the Labour Party tonight if the Mangere MP announces today he plans to fight his expulsion.

Around 30 of the Labour electorate committee met last night to hear Mr Field explain his options, and they excluded party president Mike Williams from the gathering.

Mr Field said last night the meeting gave him "100 per cent support".

He will announce his political intentions this morning at a press conference. His options include:

* Fighting his expulsion from the Labour Party.

* Returning to Parliament as an independent MP.

* Forming or joining another political party.

Electorate committee chairman Tasi Lauese said an official meeting tonight with Mr Williams would show how many people had decided to split from Labour to side with Mr Field.

He expected some people would, but wouldn't speculate on how many.

Mr Williams will attend tonight's meeting.

The Maori Party has extended a hand of friendship to Mr Field, although it has not gone so far as to offer him a place in its ranks.

Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples flew to Auckland yesterday to meet Mr Field, where they told him he had friends in Parliament should he decide to return next week.

Mrs Turia said having Mr Field join was a matter for the party to decide, and she emphasised that the situation was a "great opportunity" for the Pacific community to have an independent voice.

Keeping some separation from Mr Field also has political merit for the Maori Party.

It lowers the risk of it suffering any fallout should Mr Field be charged and convicted of criminal offences.

But if he were, Mrs Turia said she would still support him.

She likened his position to her own difficult experience when she parted with Labour in 2004.

"While I am unable to walk in Taito's shoes, I can appreciate the distress that these last few months will have caused his family," Mrs Turia said.

"Unless you have experienced such a situation, there is no way that you can imagine what is is like."

She said the party's support for Mr Field will extend to sharing meals with him when he gets back to Parliament.

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