19 Oct 2009

Maori Party push for greater representation

5:53 am on 19 October 2009

The Maori Party says it will again mount a big push to boost the numbers on the Maori roll as part of its election strategy. Its long-term electoral goal is to win all of the Maori seats and 15% of the party vote by 2017.

The Maori Party held its annual conference in Auckland on Saturday, its first summit since signing a support agreement with the National Party in 2008.

The party's president, Whatarangi Winiata, told the 200 delegates if they reach their goal it will result in significantly more influence in Parliament.

"With 15% of the party vote in 2017 - 18 seats - Maori will have sufficient influence so that their vote will be required for any legislation going through the house."

In its annual report, the party says the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act is still a top priority and work is underway to come up with a satisfactory alternative to the current law.

The co-leader of the Maori Party says she will now stay on the role. Tariana Turia had previously announced she would step down at the end of the term.

Mrs Turia says her husband and her grandchildren have now moved to Wellington and are settling in well, which will enable her to stay on as co-leader for the next five years.

The president Whatarangi Winiata has also agreed to stay on.

Maori Party mishandled broadcasting bid - Turia

Mrs Turia says her party can take some responsibility for the stoush over Rugby World Cup broadcasting rights.

Maori Party MPs had expressed disappointment about some National Party ministers' handling of the situation, in which Maori Television and Television New Zealand were set to enter a bidding war for the right to broadcast the matches.

The Prime Minister John Key acknowledged the process had been poor, and said his ministers had to take some responsibility.

Mrs Turia said her party also played a role.

"I think we all need to look at the processes that were used and ensure that it doesn't happen again."

Mrs Turia has confirmed she will not step at the end of the term, as previously indicated, saying her personal circumstances now allow her to stay on.