16 Jul 2016

Māori Party 'rebuilding' after disappointing election

7:24 pm on 16 July 2016

The Māori Party is confident it will be ready in time for next year's election, despite being in a "re-building phase".

It holds its annual meeting this weekend at Ōrakei Marae in Auckland to work out its strategies.

The Māori Party has gone from having five seats in 2008 when it struck a deal with National, to winning just one seat at the last election.

Leader of the Maori Party, Te Ururoa Flavell.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said his party had to work hard to consolidate its position off the back of a disappointing 2014 election.

"With the loss of Pita [Sharples] and Tariana [Turia] at the last election, there certainly were changes. I think myself and Marama [Fox] have brought a different leadership style that's obviously different from those two.

"We are in a re-building stage so we've got to start thinking about the long term plans for the Māori Party and ensuring that it stays a part of the political landscape forever," he said.

"If we lose the Waiariki seat, it's a large haul back as other parties find."

Mr Flavell said he was confident the Māori Party was gaining support and there would be a healthy number of members at the hui this weekend.

Maori Party MP Marama Fox

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Māori Party founder Tariana Turia said the party was definitely in a re-building phase, and the issues the party would focus on heading into the election next year would be decided this weekend.

"We have been part of government for some time now. What we need to do is clearly articulate what it is that we have been doing because what we have is the Labour Party and New Zealand First always talking us down. So we need to give our people confidence," Dame Tariana said.

Head of Māori Studies at Victoria University, Maria Bargh, said the Māori Party needed to figure out where it sat and who its allies were considering Labour and Greens decision to [http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/305285/labour,-greens-to-work-to-change-govt

work collaboratively to present an alternative government].

"Couple of their sort of key issues that might come to a head next year - the questions around freshwater, management, allocation and ownership, the Waitangi Tribunal - the second part of the water claim may be presenting findings.

"So I guess one of their considerations needs to be what are going to be the hot topics and which way are other parties going to be spinning those issues," Dr Bargh said.

The Green Party could pose a real threat to the Māori Party at the next election, she warned.

"Over the last few elections, the Greens have sometimes stood candidates in Māori seats, sometimes not. If they move to fill all of those Māori seats with Green candidates, I think that could be a challenge for the Māori Party.

"The Green Party party vote has increased over the years in Māori electorates and they seem to appeal to a significant proportion of the voters," Dr Bargh said.

Three candidates, Tuku Morgan, George Ngatai and incumbent Naida Glavish will compete for the Māori Party presidency this weekend.

Te Ururoa Flavell said depending who won, it would help determine the direction and decisons the party makes as it heads into the crucial election next year.

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