Labour Party leader Phil Goff says Ratana candidates will need to compete with everybody else for positions on his party's list.
Mr Goff has been in talks with leading Ratana members about Labour's relationship with the movement.
Ratana has made public its wish for Labour to set aside positions for four Ratana candidates which would be a reinstatement of the "historic four corners" agreement.
Mr Goff told Waatea News that's not the way Labour works.
He said Ratana support for Labour remains important, more than 70 years after the church's founder formed a pact with the first Labour Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage.
Meanwhile, an expert on the Electoral Act says there's nothing stopping Labour placing Ratana candidates high on its list, except for the potentially hostile reaction of other groups in the party.
Andrew Geddis from Otago University's law faculty says it could be extremely divisive.
He told Waatea News that Labour gave high list positions to Maori MPs, including two from Ratana, who supported it through the Foreshore and Seabed Act debate.