David Farrar
The week in politics with centre-right blogger David Farrar

David Farrar: The might of Mana Maori

Hone Harawira. Photo / APN
Hone Harawira. Photo / APN

As we all know, Hone Harawira won the Te Tai Tokerau by-election. Unless he does something monumentally stupid, he should be back in Parliament after the general election also.

This means the Mana Party is going to be in Parliament, and the real question is will they be a one man band, or will they bring in one or more List MPs.

Graeme Edgeler has calculated that Mana needs to only get 1.2%party vote to get a second MP, 2.0% for a third MP and 2.8% for a fourth MP. That level of support is not impossible.

Now Mana holds Te Tai Tokerau, their best shot is gaining party votes for additional MPs. It is very difficult to imagine that Mana could win another of the seven Maori seats. If they stand, the likely outcome is that they split the vote with the Maori Party and Labour wins back one or more seats off the Maori Party.

Let's look at the seven seats from north to south.

1. Te Tai Tokerau - highly likely Harawira holds for the Maori Party

2. Tamaki Makauru - Labour's Shane Jones is challenging Pita Sharples. Jones is very talented but also very lazy. Not even being filmed on a prime time TV show can get him to work on time. Sharples should win comfortably with a 7,540 majority to defend, but if Mana stands then Labour may be in with a chance.

3. Hauraki-Waikato. Labour's Nanaia Mahuta holds this with an 888 vote majority. I don't know anyone who thinks she won't retain the seat.

4. Waiariki - even if Mana stand, it is hard to see Labour's Louis Te Kani beating Te Ururoa Flavell who has a 6,812 majority. Flavell is an effective hard worker who gets results. Will replace Sharples as co-leader if re-elected.

5. Te Tai Hauauru - If anyone tells you Tariana Turia may lose her seat, you should try to sell them a bridge.

6. Ikaroa-Rawhiti - Parekura Horomia holds this with a 1,645 majority. If he stands again he will retain it, but he may go list only so he can retire more easily if Labour end up in opposition again. If there is no Mana candidate, it is possible a high quality Maori Party candidate could pick this seat up if Horomia retires.

7. Te Tai Tonga. No public polls have been done in this seat but the consensus seems to be that Rahui Katene's 1,049 majority will not be enough to hold off Labour's Rino Tirikatene, whose whanau served in Parliament from 1932 to 1996.

So the very best case for the Maori Party is five out of seven seats, and the worst case is just two seats - Tariana and Flavell. Whether or not the Mana Party contests these seats will have considerable impact on whether the Maori Party gets the best case or the worst case scenario.

As much as it will grate them, the logical thing for the Maori Party to do is agree not to stand in Te Tai Tokerau in exchange for Mana not contesting any other Maori seats. If they do not, they may end up writing their own death sentence.

If the Mana and Maori parties can find a way to work together, they could form an influential bloc in Parliament. It would not be impossible to have a scenario where the Maori Party has five electorate MPs and the Mana Party one electorate MP and three List MPs. Those nine seats between them could well hold the balance of power in future elections.

That would then make them a mighty Mana Maori alliance.

* David Farrar is a centre-right blogger and affiliated with the National Party. A disclosure statement on his political views can be found here.

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