Labour is shipping in foreign support for its election campaign with dozens of United States' Democrats signalling an interesting in helping with the campaign.

The move was uncovered by Te Tai Tokerau contender Hone Harawira, who says it's "really dumb" of Labour to enlist foreign support "to tell Maori people how to vote".

But it's been seized on by Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis as an example of Harawira's "desperate" attempts to win the seat.

The flare up over Labour's organisation for this year's election is an indication of how fierce battle is likely to be for the seat Harawira held, and then lost, after hooking the Mana Party up with German entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.


Davis took the seat off Harawira after support for the Mana Party leader plummeted as voters turned off Dotcom in the final weeks of the election.

Davis does not have a backup slot on the Labour list this election so has to win the electorate to stay in Parliament - and Harawira is highly likely to rely on winning it to return.

The Herald asked Harawira if the link up with Dotcom had provided any lessons when it comes to accepting help from foreigners.

He had a one-word response: "Don't."

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.

Harawira said his community networks let him know the US support for Labour was on its way after a marae was sounded out to be used for accommodation.

"From what I understand it is to target voter areas where Labour is struggling to get attention."

Harawira said that was likely to be the Maori vote and it showed "Andrew Little doesn't think he's got the Maori volunteer base to get the job done".

"To bring Americans in seems weird, disconnected and surreal. To do what? Tell Maori how to vote?"


Davis - who wasn't involved in arranging off-shore support and was unaware of it - said Harawira had hooked up with Dotcom last election in a deal which allowed access to the tycoon's wealth to fund a joint campaign.

"If he's going to get millions from a foreigner and he's complaining about people coming to help, that's just total hypocrisy."

Labour leader Andrew Little with Kelvin Davis at Waitangi. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Labour leader Andrew Little with Kelvin Davis at Waitangi. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

Davis said his campaign would be based on his record as electorate MP over the last term "trying to achieve outcomes for our people".

"It's a total contrast to what he stands for."

Labour's general secretary Andrew Kirton - also campaign manager - said the party had contacted "sister parties across the world" to offer an invitation to people to observe or help with the election campaign.

He said the move to do so wasn't unusual with Labour hosting visitors from abroad in earlier elections and also travelling to other countries to watch their election process.

"Mainly it's in the context of an exchange of knowledge."

Kirton would not give numbers but didn't reject Harawira's claim of about 30 people from the US expressing an interest. There was also interest from Australia and other countries, although the snap election announcement from the UK was likely to impact on the availability of people there.

Kirton said Labour was looking to connect with people who wanted change, rather than being wedded to expressions of party loyalty.

He said that built on work in the Wellington mayoralty campaign and Mt Roskill byelection.

"The real game is having people who are part of a movement to want to see change whether they are a member or not."