Mana may miss by-election

Hone Harawira's Mana Party might have registered too late to make the Te Tai Tokerau by-election. Photo / Richard Robinson
Hone Harawira's Mana Party might have registered too late to make the Te Tai Tokerau by-election. Photo / Richard Robinson

Hone Harawira's Mana Party might not be registered in time for the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, with the Electoral Commission saying it could take up to eight weeks to process the application.

The commission confirmed it received the Mana Party's application today but said it usually takes between six to eight weeks to process an application.

That means the party might not be registered before the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, which Prime Minister John Key today announced would take place on June 25, just over six weeks' away.

The by-election comes after Mana Party leader Mr Harawira yesterday gave notice he would resign from Parliament.

Mr Harawira has said he would resign because he wanted to seek a mandate in the electorate as leader of the new Mana Party.

He was voted in as the MP for Te Tai Tokerau while still a member of the Maori Party, which he quit in February over its relationship with the Government.

The Electoral Commission said that before registering a party it must be satisfied that the party had at least 500 current paid-up members, and that the party's name met statutory requirements.

The usual six- to eight-week processing time allows for the commission to check evidence of party membership, before giving the public an opportunity to make submissions on the party name.

Announcing the by-election date today, Mr Key said he had been advised it was appropriate to set the date now because Mr Harawira's resignation took effect from May 20.

The writ for the by-election, which sets out key election dates, will be issued on May 25. Candidate nominations will close on May 31 and the date the writ must be returned showing the successful candidates is set down for July 14.

Chief electoral officer Robert Peden said today that the commission would be working in the community to ensure Te Tai Tokerau voters knew the major differences between the by-election and the November 26 general election, which comes five months later.

"In the by-election Te Tai Tokerau people only have one vote -- for their electorate MP. There is no party vote," he said.

There would be about 130 polling stations across the Maori electorate, which extends from the North Shore of Auckland to Cape Reinga in the Far North.

Te Tai Tokerau voters who would not be able to make it to a polling station on the day, or who will be overseas, would be able to cast votes in advance from June 8.

The Maori Party and Labour have confirmed they would be standing candidates against Mr Harawira, but National isn't contesting the by-election.

The contest has already turned ugly, with Mr Harawira and the Maori Party trading accusations.

Mr Harawira says the Maori Party's decision to stand against him breached an agreement he entered into with the party after he quit.

But the Maori Party says Mr Harawira breached the agreement first by saying he would quit Parliament to force the by-election.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia this week revealed two party members had been sent threatening emails after a hui at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi on Sunday.

During the hui attendees endured a sustained, abusive rant from Titewhai Harawira, Mr Harawira's mother, according to Maori Party leaders.

- NZPA

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