Tariana Turia hits out at Labour

Tariana Turia is steeping down as co-leader of the Maori Party, ahead of the general election this year.
Tariana Turia is steeping down as co-leader of the Maori Party, ahead of the general election this year.

Retiring Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has hit out at her old party, saying Labour doesn't deserve the Maori vote.

However Ms Turia hasn't ruled out the Maori Party joining a Labour-led government if one were to form after the election.

The one-time Labour MP, who split from the party over the foreshore and seabed controversy a decade ago, is retiring at this year's general election.

Speaking to TVNZ's Q&A programme this morning, Mrs Turia was damning of her former party.

"I don't believe they deserve our vote, I don't believe they deserve the vote of the Pasifika people, because if there's one thing I've noticed since coming through and being a minister, is the very very poor resourcing of all Pasifika health, social services, you name it.''

Both the Maori and Labour parties hold three Maori electorates, with the Mana party occupying the other seat. But the retirements of Ms Turia and former Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples could see a change in the mix.

Mrs Turia though didn't appear certain that Maori voters would flock back to Labour.

"I think that our people have to ask themselves that for all the years that Labour were in government, the nine years of plenty, what is it that changed in their lives? What is it that Labour did that made them feel that things had changed for them, and have made a difference? And I want to say that when I look at kohanga reo, kura kaupapa, all the health services, all the social services, did any one of these things come out of the Labour Party? And the answer's no.''

Mrs Turia denied a vote for the Maori Party was a vote for National and said the Maori Party would work with whoever can form a government.

She did acknowledge the party's relationship with National might have hurt it "because other politicians portray it as such''.

"When we're out there in the community amongst our people, our people have been really pleased with the gains that we have made.''

And as for choosing Prime Minister John Key to speak at a fundraising dinner at the Northern Club: "Well what happened is, we've had two fundraisers. We've spoken to the people who have agreed to come along to dinner, and we've asked them who they would like to have at the dinner to be the speaking guest. Both times they chose John Key.''

Labour MP Shane Jones said Mrs Turia's "cheap shots'' were unjustified.

"Never, ever overlook the fact that Tariana only became a parliamentarian because of the Labour Party. Helen Clark, against advice from senior kaumatua, decided to take a punt with Tariana.''

He said he also rejected Mrs Turia's comments that Labour had done nothing for initiatives such as kohanga reo.

"It's a bit of cheap shot really, saying Labour never backed kohanga. Nobody backed kohanga more than Parekura Horomia.

"The fact she's putting the boot into Labour not sticking up for kura and kohanga when Parekura can't answer for himself speaks volumes about her rather than Labour.''

In response, Mrs Turia said Mr Jones was simply being "arrogant and nasty.''

She said the kaumatua in her region had encouraged her to consider Parliament and challenged Mr Jones to name those kaumatua he alleged had warned against her.

- APNZ

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