By JON STOKES
Momentum for a new Maori political party continued yesterday, with more than 1000 people, who turned out for a hui in Ngaruawahia, supporting its formation.
The hui at Turangawaewae Marae - called by Tainui to get an update on the foreshore and seabed proposal and to discuss the new Maori party - overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions supporting the creation of the party and the appointment of interim leaders.
Support for party co-leader Tariana Turia was evident when the former Labour MP received a standing ovation following her speech.
Tainui co-chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan said representatives from every major iwi turned out for the event.
While the Tainui confederation of Hauraki, Waikato, Maniapoto and Raukawa would need to talk with its people before fully endorsing the party, the enthusiasm of those in attendance showed it had strong support, he said.
"The Maori party should not be born in one day. There is a gestation period. Maori require an enduring solution and you cannot build that overnight. Let's take time and begin to build and talk about those issues."
Overcoming Maori voter apathy, ensuring young people were enrolled and getting voters from the general roll onto the Maori roll were key issues for the party to overcome.
Yesterday's hui marked the beginning of an intensive round of meetings for the party throughout the country that are planned to win tribal support before the July 10 Te Tai Hauauru byelection.
However, some Maori leaders urged caution.
Hauraki Maori Trust Board chairman Toko Renata said it was too early to give his view on the need and value of a Maori party.
While he was overwhelmingly opposed to the Government's foreshore and seabed proposal, he urged the budding party's leaders to "take your time, talk to the people".
Maori party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples said concerns raised by some speakers at the meeting over its focus and the speed with which it was being put together were normal.
"You are always going to have some difference of opinion when there are so many people involved. I respect their opinions."
Dr Sharples said the party would be consensus-based and would welcome debate.
Alliance leader Matt McCarten, who was appointed Mrs Turia's byelection campaign manager at a weekend hui, explained his role and made suggestions for the party's future at yesterday's hui.
He said after the meeting that with his experience as national organiser for the NewLabour Party and as a driving force behind the formation of the Alliance party he had skills to help overcome some of the differences within Maoridom.
"I have experience in building the Alliance - and all its competing interests - and keeping that together, well past its use-by date.
"I don't necessarily know what to do, but I certainly know what not to do, which is just as important."
He said involvement with the new party would not affect his position within the Alliance. "The Alliance is still there, although electorally it doesn't have a mandate."
Mr McCarten said the party had voted to support the Maori party.
This is despite a February press release from Alliance party president Jill Ovens supporting the Government's foreshore and seabed policy.