As the election campaign ramps up, the Herald examines key seats around the country. Today, Claire Trevett looks at the players, strategies and issues in the battle for New Zealand's seven Māori seats.
Ask Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere what the obstacles are to his party's chances of a comeback this election and he'll give you a name: "Mother Theresa".
Mother Theresa is Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
The rise of Ardern in 2017 was one of the factors that led to the Māori Party losing its remaining seat – political rookie Tamati Coffey took down veteran former Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell in Wairiki.
Tamihere, a former Labour MP, helped Labour in that campaign. But he is now the co-leader of the Māori Party trying to stage its comeback.
It has pitted two old mates against each other: Labour's Willie Jackson is heading the party's campaign in the Māori seats, while Tamihere, a former Labour MP, is now Māori Party co-leader.
Interviews with both men are interspersed by exhortations not to believe a word the other says.
But even Tamihere is muted about his party's chances this year.
The Māori Party will target the two seats that Labour won with the smallest majorities in 2017: Waiariki and Te Tai Hauāuru.
He believed they were tracking well, "and then along came Covid and the landscape changed dramatically".
"I've put a lot of effort into this campaign, more so than any campaign I've run in my life. What you'll see is the Māori Party garnering itself and getting ready for the big push in 2023."
Tamihere is standing in Tāmaki Makaurau against Labour's Peeni Henare and the Green Party's Marama Davidson.
Davidson has been given the go-ahead by her party to campaign for both the party and the electorate vote, rather than follow the Greens' usual practice of asking only for the party vote.
Tamihere says he is "pragmatic" about his own chances.
However, he has taken a low list ranking, at seven, to try to increase those chances.
It is intended to amplify the message that he will not be in unless he wins the seat.
In Te Tai Hauāuru, incumbent Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe held on by 1030 votes in 2017 against the Māori Party's Howie Tamati. It was once the realm of former Māori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.
Now a new Māori Party co-leader is standing there: Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Ngarewa-Packer has a high profile in the region, which includes Taranaki and Whanganui.
Māori Party president Che Wilson is also a big name in the region.
In Waiariki, Coffey took it by about 1700 votes in 2017.
Coffey is now facing former Labour Party candidate Rawiri Waititi, who stood in the seat for Labour in 2014. There is some added spice to the contest in the form of Vision NZ's Hannah Tamaki who is standing in the seat.
Tamaki's Destiny Church was founded in Rotorua and the link to the church gives her a ready and able campaign team.
Another new "character" is the Public Party's Billy Te Kahika, who is contesting Te Tai Tokerau.
He will go up against Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis, and the Māori Party's Mariameno Kapa-Kingi.
In 2017, the Māori Party did not stand in Te Tai Tokerau as part of a deal with Harawira's Mana Party. It did little to dent Davis' hold – he won by 4800 votes over Harawira.
This time, Hone Harawira is not standing but his sister-in-law Stephanie Harawira is standing for the One Party, a party with a platform largely based on Christian values.
Even at the height of the Māori Party's political achievements it did not secure Hauraki-Waikato or Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.
Those seats will be defended by Labour's longstanding MP Nanaia Mahuta in Hauraki Waikato, and Meka Whaitiri in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.
Whaitiri has had a bumpy time in the past three years, losing her ministerial post over accusations about her treatment of a staffer.
The election will tell whether that has cost her electorally, but she secured a healthy margin of 4200 against former Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.
She will be up against the Māori Party's new candidate Heather Te Au-Skipworth – who set up the Iron Māori contest, and is on the district health board.
No upset is expected in Te Tai Tonga where Rino Tirikatene is up against the Māori Party's Takuta Ferris.
However, communications consultant Scott Campbell picks Ferris as promising, saying it is unlikely he will make it this time but could make a strong contribution in the future.
Labour's Māori caucus head Willie Jackson says they are treating all seven seats as if they are vulnerable.
"People think it's going to be a cruise for Nanaia or Rino Tirokatene [Te Tai Tonga], but we are treating every seat as a threat. There are serious challengers out there across the country."
In 2017, Labour's Māori seat MPs did not stand on the party's list – a strategic move to try to stop people splitting their votes between Labour and the Māori Party candidates.
This election, its Māori seat candidates are on the list, and in good positions to get back in whether they hold their electorates or not.
Tamihere has sniffed the opportunity to return to what worked for the party last time, saying since 1996 Māori voters had shown they knew the power of a split vote: benefiting first NZ First and then the Māori Party.
"You'll see a smart split-vote campaign coming on, because they already know the Labour MPs are in.
"The Māori Party has always been a candidate for the electoral seats, rather than the party vote. If we run a vigorous campaign, we are in with a good chance. That is even against the juggernaut we've got in Mother Theresa [Jacinda Ardern] in the polling."
The Māori Party has also taken steps to divorce itself from its association with the National Party.
There has been a complete overhaul of its leadership and candidates since 2017 and the new co-leaders have made it clear they would not work with National.
Nor, Tamihere says, could the Māori Party work with NZ First: "It's very difficult to work with a party that campaigns on issues and doesn't assert them, like immigration."
Willie Jackson says the Māori electorates will be won or lost on Covid-19 and its impact on jobs and the incomes those jobs deliver.
The Māori Party has recognised the same. It has been outspoken about its support for iwi roadblocks over lockdowns, and the potential impact on Māori of the economic fallout.
Its campaign launch delivered a Covid-19 policy, Whānau First. That centred on a plan for Māori to be awarded 25 per cent of any Government contracts that were part of the Covid-19 economic recovery.
"The top issue is undoubtedly income, or the lack of it," Tamihere says. "When the NZ economy catches a cold, Māori get pneumonia."
However, he did not believe Covid-19 would be the only major issue in voters' minds.
Housing was the big issue in Tāmaki Makaurau, as was Oranga Tamariki's practice of taking at-risk babies from their families.
The Labour Party will also be asked whether they have done enough for Māori. At her first Waitangi Day as Prime Minister, Ardern had told Māori to hold her to account for her promises and the election is the time to do that.
Labour delivered a pleaser in the first week of the campaign: Ardern announced Labour would introduce a public holiday for Matariki, the Maori New Year.
The 2018 Budget had little by way of targeted funding for Māori, but the subsequent 2019 and 2020 Budgets delivered more money for kohanga reo, and there was a separate Covid funding package for Māori.
Jackson defends Labour's record by pointing to kohanga reo, Whānau Ora, which Labour picked up from the Māori Party, and more Māori as judges and on district health boards.
Of Ihumātao, he says Labour hasn't got it over the line yet "but we still want to progress it".
"It remains a real issue and we are working on a solution.
"But in terms of issues that are right in front of Māori, it is jobs, housing, the whānau are the priorities."
He says that is why the universal packages such as the income support in the families package in 2018 was important.
Tamihere says it is clear there is a deal relating to the purchase of the Ihumātao land but believes Labour is holding off announcing it "because it will upset too many Pākehā".
"In an honest election, you should announce that an agreement has been reached."
Other electorates also have local issues. In Te Tai Hauāuru, there is the Government's decision to halt any new permits for offshore exploration and drilling.
In Te Tai Tokerau, there are the fraught attempts to get Ngāpuhi's Treaty settlement under way.
Scott Campbell does not think the Māori Party is a spent force, but nor does he think 2020 is its year.
The reasons for that are Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Covid-19.
"I think it's a seven-seat sweep for Labour, based on the huge following of the Prime Minister.
People are worried about putting food on the table at the moment. When you are worried whether you have a job, and whether you can buy the bread and butter, things like Resource Management Act changes and things are secondary.
If it wasn't for Covid, I think the [Māori Party] would have a chance.
"If Labour wasn't so strong, they would have a chance this election, but they are one election too early."
However, Labour would still have to work hard for Waiariki and Te Tai Hauāuru.
"Adrian Rurawhe has held Te Tai Hauāuru the last two times. The difference is that this time the Māori Party have had three years to re-image themselves and that might fit better with people in Whanganui and Taranaki areas."
He said Māori Party president Che Wilson had a lot of sway in Whanganui, and Ngarewa-Packer was also high profile.
Auckland University politics lecturer Dr Lara Greaves agreed Te Tai Hauāuru was the Māori Party's best chance – but that did not mean it was a good chance.
"It is really hard to predict what will happen in the Māori seats, and there is still a chance there would be an upset from the Māori Party. But it seems to be more of an outside chance."
Greaves said there were a lot of Māori issues that would normally work in the Māori Party's favour.
They included Ihumātao, the controversy over Oranga Tamariki, and questions over Whānau Ora's funding levels and structure.
"But even with those events, it's not clear enough Māori are annoyed enough to move away from Labour."
"[The Māori Party] have invested a lot of time and energy, they've come out with some really good Māori-centred policies. They've said they're more likely to work with the left than with National, which was one of their downfalls in the past."
The Maori Party's belated inclusion in the televised debates would help, but it was difficult for the minor parties to get attention at the best of times, and Covid-19 amplified that.
The Newcomers: Public Party's Billy Te Kahika and Vision NZ's Hannah Tamaki
The Māori electorates have been a battle between Labour and the Māori Party since 2005, but 2020 has delivered some more controversial figures to the contest.
Te Kahika says he never particularly wanted to be a politician. "I don't trust them."
Nonetheless, he has decided to stand in Te Tai Tokerau, saying he has become concerned about the challenges he sees in Northland that are not being dealt with.
He lives in Whangārei, where his wife comes from. His own whakapapa is Ngāti Pahauwera and Ruapehū Uekaha.
Te Kahika has been attracting big audiences in his rallies nationwide and on social media.
He has criticised the Government's response to Covid-19, and his party's website tickles almost every conspiracy theory in town: from vaccinations and 1080 to a policy to protect the skies and subterranean territory of New Zealand from enemy spycraft.
His local campaign for Te Tai Tokerau is a very different matter. His top issue is housing.
"We have people up here living in bush huts and tree huts, we have them living in horse trailers and cow sheds. This is not a third world country."
Te Kahika's policies include schemes for state housing tenants to buy homes, and the use of Māori land and smallholdings for micro-businesses such as horticulture.
Tamaki's links with the Destiny Church are one reason she decided to stand in Waiariki.
The church was founded in Rotorua and Tamaki says she is well known there for her work over many years.
"It's time for some common sense politics from people who understand the real needs of our whānau and who aren't afraid to be a voice for them.
"Maybe it's time for the first mana wahine to be the candidate in Waiariki."
Her policies include setting up a Māori economy and providing homes for families. "Not just houses but homes." She also wants to ban 1080 in Waiariki and instead foster the hunting and trapping of pests.
Their entry into the campaign has raised eyebrows.
Tamihere describes the likes of Tamaki and Te Kahika as "distractions".
"The [Tamakis] are in it for a brand build for their church, for Cult Tamaki. So they're a distraction. Billy T, his father was outstanding, his father was a better musician.
"But they're the 'f*** you' people, they don't believe in the system."
Jackson rates Billy Te Kahika's musical ability higher than Tamihere but gives his chances in the election a zero. Nor does he have any time for the messages Te Kahika presents.
"It's interesting what he's doing and it would be easy to pass everyone who follows them off as maniacs. But there are probably some good people there who are just disillusioned with the big parties.
"The problem is there aren't many – not enough for Billy T anyway."