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

Maori Party touts for non-Maori votes on Waitangi Day

Maori Party co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell with President Tukoroirangi Morgan (right) at Ratana Pa. PHOTO/ Mark Mitchell
Maori Party co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell with President Tukoroirangi Morgan (right) at Ratana Pa. PHOTO/ Mark Mitchell

The Maori Party has taken advantage of Waitangi Day weekend to tout for votes, taking out an advertisement to call on non-Maori voters to vote for the Maori Party.

The advertisement in the Weekend Herald features an 'open letter' from Maori Party President Tukoroirangi Morgan aimed at non-Maori voters and points out non-Maori on the General role can vote for the Maori Party with their party vote.

"We'd like to take this opportunity to put our case for the votes of ALL New Zealanders who are concerned about the road our country is heading down."

It lists policies, including halting the sale of freehold land to foreigners and instead putting in place a new leasehold system.

The Maori Party traditionally focuses its energies on the Maori seats which it relies on to stay in Parliament, but has long debated whether to stand in more general seats to try to lift its party vote as extra insurance.

In the past, its leaders have said there is support among Pacific and other communities, but some voters were confused about whether they could vote for the Maori Party if on the general role.

This weekend, Morgan is expected to outline a deal with the Mana Party not to stand against each in the Maori seats to reduce the risk of vote splitting.

If the Maori Party does win more seats, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, a List MP, could be out unless the party vote lifts significantly or she manages a shock upset in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and unseats Labour.

It caps off a week in which the Maori Party lost one of its highest profile potential candidates, broadcaster and former MP Willie Jackson, to Labour. Jackson was poached by Little and is expecting a good place on Labour's list - potentially a safer route to Parliament than an electorate battle with the Maori Party.

The advertisement says the Maori Party can work with whichever party is in Government and also urged Maori voters to ensure a separate Maori party was in Parliament.

​However, Labour Party leader Andrew Little this week attacked the Maori Party, saying it was "in a state of virtual collapse" and all but dismissing any chance he would ask the Maori Party to be part of a future Labour government. He said that was because they had been part of the National Government.

Morgan said Little's "trash talk" and approach to Jackson showed Little was desperate.

"The issue that he should be more concerned about is whether or not he will continue to have the loyalty of his Maori caucus, because I would have thought this was a direct slap in the face to those people who have been loyal to Labour and been there in the trenches."

He said the Maori Party did have high calibre candidates in the wing and was confident it would win the Maori seats.

- NZ Herald

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