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Labour 'dreaming' over Maori seats - Sharples

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples today dismissed Labour's chances of winning all the Maori seats. File photo / Sarah Ivey
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples today dismissed Labour's chances of winning all the Maori seats. File photo / Sarah Ivey

Labour leader Phil Goff says his party can win all seven Maori seats on the back of its strong Te Tai Tokerau by-election result - but the Maori Party says he's dreaming.

Labour candidate Kelvin Davis came in second in Saturday's poll with 4744 votes, some 867 votes shy of incumbent Hone Harawira's 5611 votes. Maori Party candidate Solomon Tipene was a distant third on 1026.

Mr Goff today said the party had made "huge inroads" into Mr Harawira's 2008 election majority of more than 6000 votes.

"The big loser was the Maori Party and the big winner is Kelvin, who's very strongly placed to win that seat back, and we intend to win the other seats back as well, on the back of that sort of result," Mr Goff said.

Labour already holds two of the seven Maori seats, Hauraki-Waikato and Ikaroa-Rawhiti, while the Maori Party has four.

The by-election result was "bad news" for the Maori Party's seat-holders in Tamaki Makaurau, Te Tai Tonga and Waiariki, Mr Goff said.

"Those are seats that are under direct pressure from Labour. I believe we can win them."

The Te Tai Hauauru electorate would be harder to take from Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, but Mr Goff said he "certainly wouldn't rule that out".

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples today dismissed Labour's chances of winning all the Maori seats.

"They are dreaming if they're thinking that," he said.

"We have one aim, and that is to take back seven seats, and we've got to aim that way."

Dr Sharples today ruled out working with Mr Harawira as a way to foil Labour's chances.

Mr Harawira said at the weekend he was open to an agreement with his former Maori Party, but he was yet to decide whether his new Mana Party would stand in all seats.

He told TV One's Marae Investigates he wanted to speak to the Maori Party co-leaders about the election and to identify issues the parties could work on together, "including the holding of the Maori seats and possibly general seats as well".

Dr Sharples said he was yet to discuss Mr Harawira's offer with Mrs Turia and senior party figures, but indicated the chance of working together was probably nil.

"We haven't really talked about that, but at this stage I have no leaning myself to doing any deals at all with anybody," he said.

"If you're talking about for future of Maori, yes, it's a good idea to get together, but we need a different, a real honest integral approach from Hone.

"We'll stand on our own mana, we'll put our own candidates up, we'll talk about our achievements and we'll stand on that."

Mr Goff said Maori did not like to see squabbling between different political parties.

"It's all very well for Hone now to say he wants to talk, but just two days ago he was using pretty foul language about what he thought of the Maori Party and what they'd done.

"That's not the basis for a working relationship within Parliament, let alone any sort of coalition deal for the next election."

Mr Goff again ruled out Labour working with Mr Harawira, saying his ideology was different from Labour's and he was not a stable partner.

- NZPA

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