Election 2014

27 Nov 2011

Maori Party to hold meetings before any deal with National

7:20 pm on 27 November 2011

Before it commits to entering a deal with National, the Maori Party will hold a series of meetings with its supporters over the next week.

Its three MPs and the party's president and vice-presidents met in Auckland on Sunday afternoon to discuss the election result, as well as what should form the basis of talks with the National Party.

A similar process was followed after the last election, when the Maori Party held a series of hui over the course of about a week.

The Maori Party holds four of the seven Maori seats, but its party vote dropped from 2.39% in the 2008 election to 1.35% on Saturday and it lost Te Tai Tonga to Labour's Rino Tirakatene.

National Party leader John Key says he wants to continue working with the Maori Party, as he believes it would provide balance to a National-led government.

[image:3920:half:right]

In the last Parliament, it entered a supply and confidence agreement with National, and its co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples were Ministers outside Cabinet.

Previously, the Maori Party indicated it was opposed to the asset sales plan, but said it may be able to support the policy if iwi groups were able to have priority access to the shares. However, Dr Sharples says he would not trade his party's other important policies to make that happen.

He says if the Maori Party considers a deal with National, its flagship Whanau Ora policy is non-negotiable and it would expect to retain its ministerial positions. Whanau Ora was launched last year with a start-up fund of $134 million to deliver social services to at-risk families.

Dr Sharples admits he is disappointed with the election results and suspects Maori did not like the dispute between his party and Hone Harawira earlier this year.

Mr Harawira is now leader of the Mana Party. It attracted just 1% of the party vote on Saturday, while Mr Harawira's 2011 by-election majority was cut by Labour list MP Kelvin Davis.

Dr Sharples believes this election was a one-off and does not believe Maori support is shifting back to Labour.

Dr Sharples and co-leader Tariana Turia have signalled they will not run in the 2014 election. However, both they say they want to build up the party before they retire from politics.