Labour leader Andrew Little has further distanced Labour from the Maori Party while also dismissing Hone Harawira's Mana Movement as "irrelevant".

Speaking at Ratana Pa near Wanganui this morning, Little all but ruled out forming a post-election coalition with the Maori Party or Mana Movement, which have agreed to work together to win back Maori seats.

Little said Labour would work with parties which had "a practical set of ideas of what can be done" for Maori.

The Maori Party had been "shackled" to the National Party for nine years, and National had failed Maori, he said.


"Why the Mana Party would want to now shackle itself to the Maori Party is entirely up to them, but they are totally irrelevant."

Opposition parties are today holding political talks at the Ratana Pa, the first big Maori event of the year. Labour, Greens the New Zealand First and Gareth Morgan's Opportunities Party walked onto the pa together. The National-led Government and the Maori Party attended the Ratana commemorations yesterday.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell made a strong pitch for the Ratana vote yesterday, saying that the long Labour-Ratana relationship was "finished".

Labour's relationship with Ratana and the Kingitanga movement has become strained in the last year. In a rare move, members of the Kingitanga movement walked onto the pa yesterday alongside the Maori Party and the Mana Movement.

Flavell urged Ratana to back the Maori Party as the Kingitanga movement had, and called for a "One Maori" movement.

Asked how he would compete with a unified Maori movement, Little said he was not threatened by Flavell's comments.

"We compete on doing stuff and offering stuff that makes a practical difference for Maori."

Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English's comments at Ratana yesterday. In his first visit as Prime Minister, English told Ratana members to "reawaken the spirit of enterprise" among Maori because Government had "reached the limits of what government can do - government grants, programmes, more public servants."


That was a message of failure, Little said.

"There's plenty more we need to do and plenty more we can do," Little said.

Little will address Ratana elders this morning. He said he planned to talk about "how we have strengthened the relationships with Ratana" over the last year. He is also expected to announced a housing initiative for the Ratana settlement.