John Tamihere should keep his head down and his mouth shut, say Maori voters canvassed following his recent attack on Labour Party colleagues.

However, support for the Tamaki Makaurau MP remains strong in his former hometown of Henderson, with all those spoken to continuing to support the former chief executive of West Auckland's Waipareira Trust.

Most blame recent pressure - including a Serious Fraud Investigation and a Government-backed inquiry into his dealings while head of the trust - for his outbursts.

A Maori warden who did not want to be named said she continued to support Mr Tamihere.

"He has been under a lot of pressure - he has had to move his family because of all this. In light of what he has been through it is understandable."

She said Mr Tamihere had shown himself to be "faithful and honest," and she respected his right to speak his mind.

This sentiment was not shared by another Maori voter, who labelled his outbursts "bloody dumb".

"What was he thinking? He is a man with immense talent, who has come through a lot."

She said Mr Tamihere had done a lot of good for Maori, and was concerned his "blunder" would see him ousted from the political arena.

"He is saying what a lot of people are thinking. I just hope he hasn't blown it for himself. He is like Winston [Peters] - a rough diamond that needs polishing."

Des Ripi, while not supporting Mr Tamihere's outbursts, will continue to support the man.

"He is a good guy - a methodical, strategic thinker. Maori can benefit by his presence [in Government]. I like his style."

Mr Ripi conceded there appeared little strategy in the MP attacking his Labour colleagues, and believed the views expressed were out of touch with middle New Zealand, who were more "open-minded and inclusive".

Mr Ripi urged Prime Minister Helen Clark, whom Mr Tamihere labelled as "emotional", to show tolerance towards the wayward MP, and "discipline him with love".

Henderson man Cameron Stowers supported Mr Tamihere's right to have a view, but was less supportive of his decision to make it public.

"If a player in a football team starts attacking the coach he is out of there."

He said he would continue to support the Labour Party, whether or not Mr Tamihere remained an MP.

"I'm not surprised he has done what he has done. Nothing surprises me with that guy anymore."

Fred Reihana believed the comments had diminished Mr Tamihere's ability to influence change for the people of West Auckland.

"I support him. I don't support what he has said."

Wayne Kahi was surprised by Mr Tamihere's outbursts.

He supported some of the criticisms, including concern about the influence of Labour's feminists and the marginalisation of men.

Tamaki Makaurau


* The electorate runs from Manurewa to the Harbour Bridge, and from Howick to Bethells Beach in West Auckland.

* John Tamihere won the seat in 2002 with a 9444 majority.

* He was first elected to Parliament as the Labour MP for Hauraki in 1999. Boundary changes following the 1999 election saw the Hauraki electorate replaced with the new Tainui and Tamaki Makaurau electorates.