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

Cut deals to ensure survival - Taurima tells Maori Party

Shane Taurima left TVNZ in controversy. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Shane Taurima left TVNZ in controversy. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Shane Taurima, who left TVNZ in controversy because of links with Labour, has spoken at the Maori Party conference telling them they needed to consider cutting deals to have any hope of beating Labour in the Maori seats again.

Mr Taurima spoke as part of a panel at the Maori Party AGM today, telling them they had to face up to their worst election result ever. "It is the worst result you have seen."

He said he was not advocating doing deals "but it something you must consider."

"I know as soon as we start talking deals things get a bit tetchy - but you need to have it on the table because things could turned out quite differently."

He said the Maori Party also had to ask why it was that Maori voters went back to Labour - while other voters had deserted Labour in droves. He said a big part of that had to be its arrangement with National.

"National is and will always be your achilles heel."

He said the Maori Party had tried to justify that relationship. "But you haven't taken your people with you."

He said Mana leader Hone Harawira had done "the wrong deal" by joining with Dotcom's Internet Party.

"But I dare say if he had the opportunity to make a deal or come to some arrangement with the Maori Party then the results could have been quite different in a number of Maori seats. Do not rule it out."

He said in Tamaki Makaurau, if the Mana Party had not stood a candidate and if he had not supported the Labour candidate the result could have been different.

However, his fellow panellist former head of Womens' Refuge Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said she would be "very uncomfortable" if there was any arrangement or merger with Mana again. "I don't know too much about what went on, but I do know it would be the kiss of death if we were ever, ever to merge or have some sort of relationship with the Mana Party. I don't believe a person changes their behaviour to that extent."

She said the break up with Hone Harawira had been a terrible time for all the other Maori MPs because of the disrespect shown. "If you can't get on, kei te pai [that's fine] but you leave people with their dignity. And for their dignity to attacked - I find that appalling.

Mr Taurima said the Maori Party had to act more strategically and said nobody better understood MMP than Prime Minister John Key.

"You heard about those deals before the election. He understands that's the reality of MMP. The Maori Party must understand the reality of MMP too."

The party also had to learn to sing about its achievements more rather than follow the proverb that the kumara should not sing of its sweetness. He was loudly applauded by those at the AGM.

Mr Taurima did not discuss his own future political ambitions, but joked he was taken aback to be invited given his Labour links - "just if you were wondering if I was at the right hui."

"I said yes straight away because I will support any activity, any hui, any event, any attempt to lift Maori participation in our electoral system. It is not acceptable that one in two Maori voters did not vote."

Mr Taurima controversially left TVNZ last year after it was discovered he had remained active in the Labour Party and used some TVNZ resources and offices for Labour Party purposes.

He missed out on the selection as Labour's candidate for the Tamaki Makaurau electorate because of the controversy at TVNZ and is now employed by a Whanau Ora agency. His only reference to his failed attempt to get the Labour selection was to admit he had been "hoha with politics" afterward.

Tamaki Makaurau seat was won by Labour's Peeni Henare, ending the Maori Party's nine year hold on it.

A former Christian Heritage Party candidate, Ms Raukawa-Tait said she had just gone on to the Maori roll and had voted for the Maori Party.

She said the Maori Party needed to work on more professional form of fundraising "instead of this piddling around in electorates with sausage sizzles. No wonder you're tired."

- NZ Herald

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