But party leaders are rejecting an accusation by Sam Rerekur' />

A Maori Party candidate has quit, days after being named as 57th on the party's list.

But party leaders are rejecting an accusation by Sam Rerekura its list selection process was unfair and marred by nepotism and say his claims are a case of sour grapes.

But while the criticism comes from just one spurned candidate it nevertheless marks the end of a dream run for the fledgling party.

While there have been internal rumblings about the selection process for a couple of electorate candidates, the party's leaders have so far managed to largely keep any dissent in-house.

The party announced its list on Sunday and raised some eyebrows with the decision not to give all the Maori seat candidates top rankings - a path co-leader Pita Sharples advocated.

Former Olympic skier Simon Wi Rutene won the number-four spot and Pakeha treaty educationalist Robert Consedine was ranked number six in an attempt to broaden the appeal of the party and to send an "inclusive" message.

Before the party decided to contest general electorate seats it asked each Maori electorate to choose a candidate for the seat and to rank other aspirants for the list.

Dr Sharples won the Tamaki Makaurau electorate candidacy and Mr Rerekura, a former Parliamentary Maori cultural services co-ordinator, won the top list ranking.

But to Mr Rerekura's anger, he was ranked at number 57 on the party list - which he described as "unfair and unjust".

He did not accuse the party of any particular breach of its rules, but said he had worked tirelessly for the Tamaki Makaurau branch and was led to believe this would be rewarded.

"We went out in the cold to all the markets in South Auckland, we door-knocked and sold sausages. We'd done all that work and you would have thought we'd be ranked on our effort."

Mr Rerekura, who will now stand as an independent against Dr Sharples, said Mr Wi Rutene had made little contribution to the party.

He said the former ski champ was party president Whatarangi Winiata's nephew and number seven ranked wananga lecturer Pakake Winiata his son, which raised questions about favouritism.

Mr Rerekura, who set up a Ngapuhi branch of the party in Auckland, also accused it of being anti-Ngapuhi.

Dr Sharples said Mr Rerekura had worked hard and he would have liked to see him higher on the list, but the ranking committee had followed proper process and its decisions had to be accepted.

He was angered by the claims of nepotism, saying: "That is really sour grapes".

Pakake Winiata had worked intensively for the party, he said.

Party co-leader Tariana Turia said Mr Wi Rutene was not related to Dr Winiata and the claims of nepotism were without justification.

There were three representatives for each Maori electorate on the ranking committee and the wishes of each electorate had been pivotal in deciding the list, she said.

"We have hundreds of workers who expect nothing more from the party than a better future for their grandchildren."

Labour's Tamaki Makaurau candidate, John Tamihere, questioned the decision to put members of other ethnic groups ahead of Maori who had worked for the party.

"They are the Maori Party, they are not going to win general seats. If this is their list, it's hard to see why they left Labour."

Tai Tokerau Maori Party candidate Hone Harawira yesterday moved to clarify why he wasn't on the list.

"Last year, even before I was nominated, I said that if I was chosen to represent the Maori Party in Tai Tokerau, I would do so only as the electoral candidate."