24 Jan 2010

Labour list positions decided on merit says Goff

10:18 pm on 24 January 2010

Labour leader Phil Goff says the party's list positions can't be requested and are decided on merit.

Mr Goff was responding to a request from the president of the Ratana church to provide high list positions for four Ratana members.

A spokesperson for the church's president Andre Meihana earlier said that the president had made some requests of Labour that were crucial to his ongoing support.

Mr Goff and about 20 of his MPs received a warm reception as they arrived on the marae at Ratana on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Goff says his party is still strongly supported by the Ratana Church, and he plans to build the relationship further.

But he says any group within the Labour Party knows a list seat is something that comes from merit and from working and gaining the respect of peers.

Mr Goff says list positions are not appointed by the leader or the party's president.

He says the Maori Party provides strong competition for support within Ratana, but the relationship between Ratana and Labour is enduring.

Maori Party claims support

The Maori Party, which was also welcomed onto the marae at Ratana on Sunday, says its support within the Ratana Church has increased markedly.

Traditionally Ratana followers have been Labour supporters, since an agreement between the church's founder and the Labour Party in the 1930's.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says during the speeches he heard the party was well supported, and was told to keep up the hard work in Parliament.