Hone Harawira's offer to reach a new truce with the Maori Party should be seen for what it is: a genuine offer in the very best interests of the Mana Party.

The Maori Party should see it for what it is: an expedient offer, but one they would be stupid to turn down.

Their bickering damages both parties and makes Labour more attractive.

And if a truce led to an electoral accommodation, both Maori and Mana would maximise their potential by not directly competing.

The Maori Party would concentrate on the electorate vote in the Maori seats, and Mana would concentrate on the party vote.

However, in matters to do with Hone Harawira, the Maori Party does not always use its head. Its heart rules when it comes to its former maverick. That's why it foolishly stood in the Te Tai Tokerau byelection, only to suffer the humiliation of gaining just over 1000 votes.

Harawira can take little heart from the result. Not only is his majority slashed to 867, he polled 6408 fewer votes than he got for the Maori Party in the 2008 general election.

It cannot be described by any stretch as a resounding mandate.

Labour list MP Kelvin Davis, by comparison, came much closer to the same support he got last election.

Even taking away the 1000 committed Maori Party supporters, the results show that several thousand northerners who voted for Harawira in the past and stayed home on Saturday will determine his ultimate fate in November.

The stay-homes will fall into one of four categories, the biggest being the group turned off by the carry-on between Mana and Maori.

The others will be torn between the two; too apathetic; or just waiting to see what happens between now and the November election.

Harawira's truce doesn't seem genuine because every time he extends his olive branch it is covered in thorns.

He has had moments of being a gracious winner, but they have been fleeting.

Moments after being re-elected, he said he wanted the Mana Party to merge with the Maori Party after its co-leaders had retired.

Yesterday, he revived talk of how the Maori Party had sold out Te Tai Tokerau, and a little later he said the Maori Party was led by pensioners.

The fact is that a truce with the Maori Party is not in the heart of the Mana Party any more than it is in the heart of the Maori Party.

Besides the bad blood in the past, they have fundamentally different world views about iwi power structures. The Maori Party has helped to inflate the power of the iwi leadership group, giving them a place at the top table of government.

The Mana Party's leadership has a deep mistrust of the "brown table" and is a party of the proletariat.

Their differences don't mean they shouldn't have a truce. The aim of a truce is not to become friends but to limit damage to themselves.

Beyond Te Tai Tokerau, it would make no odds to the Mana Party whether Labour won back most of the Maori seats or the Maori Party held them.

The Maori Party was offered an electoral accommodation previously in 2005 when Mana Party chairman Matt McCarten advocated the formation of a blue-collar Aotearoa New Zealand Party.

The difference now is that the Aotearoa party wasn't a going concern. Mana is, and it is time for the Maori Party to wake up to it.