Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell is in Japan to help launch the Ainu Party, which aims to represent the rights and interests of indigenous people of the Hokkaido region.

"Maori have long upheld a respect and a commitment to supporting the Ainu, as our indigenous brothers and sisters across the Pacific," Mr Flavell told an audience at the party's launch today in Ainu Mosir, Japan.

"In 2008, five members from AMO - the Advancement of Maori Opportunity were present at the Indigenous Peoples Summit in Hokkaido Ainu Mosir.

The Maori Party is extremely proud, therefore, to bring the best wishes of tangata whenua - the indigenous voices of Aotearoa - into this very exciting event."


Mr Flavell was at the forefront of the movement that led to the birth of the Maori Party in 2004 and he had some advice for the Ainu Party.

"I want to be really clear with you that it's not enough to have political representation - political authority is vital if we are to open up the opportunities our people seek to make the difference we need.

"Being in an arrangement with Government provides us with immediate access to ministers. And importantly it has enabled us to throw open the doors of parliament to ensure our people are able to be at the table, telling their stories, being heard."

The Maori Party's relationship with the National Party lead to Hone Harawira quitting the Maori Party and setting up the Mana Party.

But the Maori Party has always defended its arrangement with National as the best way to make practical gains. It entered a confidence and supply arrangement with National in 2008 and in 2011.

"Our intentions have always been to negotiate the very strongest position for Maori within Parliament, and to make gains in every field," Mr Flavell told the party launch.

"We hope that the establishment of the Ainu Party will contribute along with other initiatives to ensure your culture, your livelihood, your values and traditions are being preserved, promoted and protected."