3 Jun 2015

Possibility of Māori-Mana merger

7:28 am on 3 June 2015

Auckland leaders of the Māori Party and the Mana Movement have held informal talks about the possibility of the two political parties merging.

Mana split from the Maori Party in 2011.

The opening of talks in Tāmaki Makaurau has been described by both sides as a grassroots movement to reunite the two.

James Papali'i from Mana said while the dialogue had the support of the party's leadership, it was being driven by the party's members.

"When it comes to leadership, I think it has been tried and has not been successful or someone says it is their problem, or someone says it is the others so I think for it really to be successful it definitely has to come from grass-roots.

"I do not think it can work any other way."

He said both parties needed to look at how a merger could work and not focus on the negatives.

"We are getting a lot of dialogue from those that are for and those that are against."

He said both parties had a lot of similarities despite people saying a merger could never work because Mana would never side with National as the Maori Party has done.

Mr Papali'i said this was not a big stumbling-block.

"Mana should be able to go into opposition if it choses not to go with National, and the Māori Party should be able to go with with the Government, and we see gains in them doing that.

"So it actually could be a party that is in opposition and in government."

He said while it had never happened before, it could happen.

"Everyone is looking at what cannot work, but there are ways that we can make it work.

"We do not have to follow every other party that has gone before us and it is good time to start doing things differently."

Martin Cooper is a Māori Party member in Auckland and been involved in the informal talks with Mana.

He said reunification has been on the cards for a while.

"I mean all you have to do is look at the results and come to the conclusion that maybe, if we had joined together, then we would have won most of those seats.

"So it is something that has been talked about since the election. It has been on everyone's minds."

He said every party had its differences and they worked through them.

"We are no different, and the only way to sort things out is to sit down and work through them."

He said if a merger or alliance was decided on, then it will be up to the parties' membership to make the final call.

Mr Cooper said he hadn't had any indication of support or otherwise from the leadership, although co-leader Marama Fox had told him, "lets see what happens".

Mr Papali'i said Mana leader Hone Harawira had always had an open-door policy about any moves to bring the two parties back together and was supportive of the Auckland initiative.

Tāmaki Makaurau members from both parties will hold a hui at Manurewa Marae on 20 June.

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