Party planning 'like Maori ninjas in stealth mode'

By Derek Cheng

Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo / APN
Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo / APN

A minimum hourly wage of $18.80, free doctors' visits for those under 18, and a warrant of fitness for all rental homes are among the election pledges of the Maori Party, which hopes to again have a hand in the next Government.

The party, which predicts it will be in Government regardless of whether National or Labour win the election, also wants free public transport for all low income whanau, children aged 18, and students. The party launched its election campaign at the weekend in Rotorua, boldly predicting it would not only stave off political extinction, but win all seven Maori seats.

The impending retirement of co-founders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, and the Kim-Dotcom-funded challenge to co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell's seat in Waiariki have some political pundits predicting the end of the party.

But Mr Flavell delivered a speech full of ambition and optimism to mark the party's 10th anniversary.

"While some people have tried unsuccessfully to count us out, to kill us off, and wished us out of the way and gone, the Maori Party has remained. And let's be clear. The Maori Party is not going anywhere. We have been planning, and building like Maori ninjas operating in stealth mode."

The Maori Party would work with either a National-led or Labour-led Government.

Mr Flavell defended the party's history with the National Party, which some Maori have criticised and may lead to Maori voters shopping elsewhere.

"It's not just about the gains we make ... it's also about stopping what we can, putting our Maori voice forward on every issue, and when things go south - it's about being in the right position to at least try to make a difference," Mr Flavell said. "We pushed the door of Government wide open ... We have brought you all with us. We are no longer political novices. The Maori Party are serious contenders for a piece of political pie with very healthy appetites, thank you very much."

Maori Party election pledges
• Lift the minimum wage to the living wage of $18.80 an hour.
• Free health care for children up to 18.
• Warrants of fitness for all rental houses, state and private.
• Invest in trade training, apprenticeships and job skills.
• Nutrition education programme Food for Thought in all decile 1 to 4 schools.

- NZ Herald

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