Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Maori Party, Mana Party reach truce - of sorts

Maori Party president Naida Glavish. Photo / File / Martin Sykes
Maori Party president Naida Glavish. Photo / File / Martin Sykes

The Maori Party and the Mana Party have reached a truce of sorts after a meeting between the parties' hierarchy last night - but the main stumbling block of the Maori Party's relationship with the National Party is yet to be resolved.

Mana President Annette Sykes met the Maori Party's co-vice president Ken Mair last night and the two parties agreed to work framework setting out areas of policy on which they would work together. That is due to be launched in early 2014 and it likely to include areas such as Maori unemployment, poor housing, and child poverty.

The party leaders, Mana's Hone Harawira and the Maori Party's Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell, were not involved in the meeting - a decision understood to have been made by the party presidents to reduce the risk of personal antagonism from derailing the talks.

However, Ms Sykes said there were now plans for the leaders to meet in the next few weeks.

In a statement, she said the parties would also continue to meet to discuss other 'strategic and co-operation matters' - likely to include the possibility of accommodations in the Maori electorates to try to prevent Labour claiming the seats back.

However, she said there remained the issue of the Maori Party's decision to work with National, and ongoing willingness to do so.

"Mana has always been very clear that we won't work with National, nor enter into any arrangements with parties that do, because they are so harmful. This is a significant point of difference with the Maori Party that we'll be working through."

She said a further announcement on the issue was expected before Christmas, and the important thing was that the parties were now talking after the Maori people said they wanted that to happen.

Mr Mair said he was pleased the Maori and Mana parties had found some common ground to work on, and would work together to develop flagship policies. However, he indicated the Maori Party would not budge from its stance of working with either of the major parties in Government - something its wider membership backed.

"The Mana Party reiterated to us that they'll never work with a National-led Government, whereas we reinforced out point that we just keep ourselves open to working with whatever party becomes the Government after next year's election."

The meeting was set up at the invite of Maori Party president Naida Glavish.

Mr Harawira has long said his door is open to discuss a merger or more co-operation, but both sides appear to have accepted a merger is unlikely in the near future, because of the Maori Party stance that it will work with whichever party is in government.

- NZ Herald

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