Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Flavell: 'Hone doesn't have a mortgage on looking after the poor'

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says that Labour ruling out the Internet Mana Party from ministerial posts showed the importance of the Maori Party sitting at the Government of the day.

Some parties talked about changing things; the Maori Party actually changed things.

"All the philosophies are fine," said Mr Flavell. "What we have attempted to do is make it happen."

Mr Flavell was speaking in the latest of the Herald's Hot Seat video interviews of party leaders.

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He said former colleague and now Mana Internet leader Hone Harawira "hasn't got a mortgage on looking after the poor people."

"He talked about feeding the children...well we've done it . Our kaupapa we put in front of the National Party was the Kickstart programme which is in fact dealing with over 25,000 children in more than 700 schools."

The ministerial poverty committee led by Finance Minister Bill English had been a Maori Party initiative and had resulted in extending free access to doctors from under sixes to under 13-year-olds, to extended pay parental leave and parental tax credits, and further moves to insulate homes and address rheumatic fever.

The party was formed in 2004 and was first elected to Parliament in 2005 when it sat in Opposition in Labour's third term.

John Key offered the party a confidence and supply agreement in National's first and second terms, despite not needing the numbers to govern with Act and United Future already sewn up.

When former Act leader John Banks resigned from Parliament in June, the Maori Party held the balance of power on some legislation including one on workplace place which opponents said would weaken collective bargaining.

"We, with our three little humble votes, stopped legislation in its tracks because if we didn't support it, it went nowhere," he said. "that's how powerful we can be."

That wasn't to say the party would use that opportunity every time.

"But it does show the country that we can, if needed, bring a common sense approach, a Maori approach to deal with the Government of the day."

Mr Harawira left the Maori party in 2011 and is now in an alliance with Kim Dotcom's Internet party.

Despite pledging its support to a Government which got rid of National, Labour leader David Cunliffe has ruled out offering any Internet Mana MPs ministerial posts.

That made the Maori Party's position to deal with the Government of the day more important.

"If you want to have change, you have got to be at the table."

Commenting on the difference between the more than $3 million Internet Mana were campaigning on compared with the meager coffers of the Maori Party candidates he said it made it hard for everyone.

"But there is something about clear thinking and passion and common sense that I think always wins over - call me a dreamer."

The Hot Seat interview with Te Ururoa Flavell was conducted on August 5, 2014.

The series so far:

Thursday - Hone Harawira and Laila Harre, Internet-Mana

Friday - Colin Craig, Conservatives

Saturday - Jamie Whyte, Act

Monday - Peter Dunne, United Future

Tomorrow - Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, Greens

- NZ Herald

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