A political poll has revealed just how tight the race for the Waiariki electorate could be.
The incumbent, Tamati Coffey of the Labour Party, is leading the race, according to 38 per cent of respondents in a Māori Television Curia Market Research election poll released on Sunday evening.
However, the Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi is nipping at his heels with 26 per cent of the vote, with Vision NZ's Hannah Tamaki a distant third on 2 per cent.
With 24 per cent of respondents saying they were still unsure about their preferred candidate, whichever way they lean could be the deciding factor.
"Polling only 12 per cent behind an incumbent tells me that our people are ready for change," Waititi said.
"I am grateful for my whānau, the massive support we've got and I'm very happy with the authentically Māori, whānau-oriented, grassroots, up the guts, kapa haka campaign we have been running.
"The number of undecided people tells me that Waiariki are living up to their reputation of thinking independently and critically and not succumbing to the rhetoric being dished out by the Labour Party."
Asked who their most preferred coalition partner would be if Labour were to form a coalition, the Māori Party came in first with 52 per cent while 38 per cent said they would prefer the Green Party, 14 per cent NZ First, and only 5 per cent preferred National.
"Two weeks is a long time in politics. We will continue to run a strong campaign,
we will continue to advocate fiercely for our people and we will continue to do it
Coffey said he was happy about the results of the poll and that they echoed what he was hearing "on the ground".
"Māori voters of Waiariki are pleased with the progress that we as a government have been able to make in the three years that we've been in government," he said.
Labour are front runners for the party vote in Waiariki, with 47 per cent saying they intend to vote Labour, 19 per cent for the Māori Party, 7 per cent Greens, 3 per cent National, 2 per cent NZ First and 2 per cent Act. Fourteen per cent of those polled were undecided.
"The voters of Waiariki have traditionally put their faith in Labour. If you look into previous elections, even when Te Ururoa Flavell was the MP for Waiariki under the Māori Party, Labour was still the preferred party," Coffey said.
He said the 24 per cent of respondents who were still undecided would be his focus for the next 12 days.
"My message is to let them know about the gains we've made for Māori in the time we've been here. Lots of Crown-Māori partnerships in all areas. From Oranga Tamariki - to try and reform how we look after our tamariki - to Corrections to the Department of Conservation actually partnering with Māori iwi on the ground.
"I think the Waiariki voters need to know we've been at the decision-making table championing that," Coffey said.
According to the poll, the three most important issues for Waiariki voters are health, housing and in equal third place Māori/Treaty issues and the economy.