It's looking like Maori electorate seats will remain - and local Maori are not surprised.

During his election campaign Winston Peters said if New Zealand First were in government, Kiwis would be asked in a binding referendum if the Maori seats should be retained or abolished.

However on Thursday night he said his party had not been delivered enough support to demand such a measure.

Rotorua Lakes Council Te Tatou o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White said he wasn't surprised that by teaming up with Labour and the Greens it was something that came off the table.

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"He did signal even before the election it wasn't something he was bound to."

Mr White said he hoped to see the seats remain in place until such time as Maori decide they no longer needed that representation.

"They are the vehicle for the Maori voice to be heard.

"Maori play a very unique and important role in the structure of our government."

The Labour Party hold all seven of the Maori electorate seats.

Mr White said putting the question out to New Zealand could have seen it go either way.

"It would have been very close, a little bit like watching Winston trying to decide."

He hoped New Zealand would not see Maori as a threat to society but as a contributor.

"Maori are doing very well and there's starting to be a sense of contribution."

Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust chairman Malcolm Short said it was not a surprise to see the referendum would not go ahead.

"I think it is a good thing that they are retained."

Mr Short said the seats gave Maori a voice at the table and there was still a lot of work to be done advocating for Maori rights.

"Hopefully [Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey] can continue on the good work that we saw from Te Ururoa Flavell during the last term.

"We will watch with bated breath."