Mood of the Nation: National picks up Maori support

By Jarrod Booker, Simon Collins, Yvonne Tahana

Sue Thomson, 63, was disillusioned with Labour over moral issues at the last election in 2008 and voted National. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Sue Thomson, 63, was disillusioned with Labour over moral issues at the last election in 2008 and voted National. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Maori are showing a strong interest in voting for National, and the party is now second to Labour in a party-vote preferences poll.

In a sample of 522 New Zealanders, the Herald interviewed 81 Maori or 15.5 per cent. That is slightly higher than the national percentage - Maori are 14.6 per cent of New Zealand's population.

National is only five percentage points behind Labour, the poll shows, with 25 per cent backing blue compared with 30 per cent for Labour - a 10 per cent increase for National on a 2008 Herald poll.

The Maori Party received 20 per cent support, the Greens 9 per cent and Mana 11 per cent.

New Plymouth resident Cain Waruhia, 24, said John Key's likeability was one of the reasons he was voting National.

The cafe owner said strong leadership mattered to him and a government needed more than one term to make a difference.

"I have always been Labour but since [Helen Clark] left, well, I don't think there's a better person than John Key. You've got to give National a chance, I don't think three years is enough."

In Horohoro, Tyron Kiel, 22, had never voted before but planned to back National because of Mr Key.

"He's just on to it, a businessman, I'd rather have someone who knows what they are doing with the books than all the PC other stuff."

Forestry contractor Waa Owens, 38, said he voted Labour in 2008 but the possibility of a capital gains tax under that party had shifted his thinking.

"Because we are property investors we don't like that.

"[Originally] I didn't think John Key's policies were that good but I think it has changed, I think for business it's improved.

"John Key is starting to get free trade agreements with India and other places.

"He really seems like he wants to look after the people of New Zealand."

Sue Thomson, 63, of Panmure, said she was disillusioned with Labour over moral issues in 2008 and voted National. That would probably continue although Mana was an option as she was concerned at the cost of living, especially the cost of food.

In 2008 the Maori Party registered 2.5 per cent support in the party vote but won five of the seven candidate contests in the Maori seats.

Individuals split their votes so the party hasn't been successful in persuading voters to send a second tick its way.

It now has to contend with the Mana Party, formed after MP Hone Harawira left the Maori Party.

Erina Tamati, 34, a Taranaki homemaker, and Geoff Mariu, a Wanganui radio station manager, said they were sticking with the Maori Party because of its track record in government.

Another backer, who did not want to be named, said the party did the right thing in getting "rid" of Mr Harawira.

But Jessica-Anne Holes, 23, a Unitec student, said she was voting for Mana.

"I think Hone will stand up for the lower-incomes and he will make a difference, he will tell the bigger parties where to stick it."

Porirua labourer Kaine Robertson, 28, said Labour supporters stood for working people.

"There's working families who are on low wages - it's a struggle. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer."

The poll also shows that the Maori are slightly less enthusiastic than other New Zealanders about the state of the country.

Forty-one per cent said they thought the state of the country was good or better, 37 per cent thought it was okay and 23 per cent said it was poor or worse.

That compares with figures for all of those polled of 48 per cent, 35 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

- NZ Herald

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