Green Party lines up for Māori seats

7:58 am on 23 January 2017

The Green Party has officially selected its co-leader Metiria Turei to stand against Labour's Rino Tirikatene in Tai Tai Tonga, one of the seven Māori seats.

Ms Turei has thrown her pōtae (hat) into the Māori seat contest after standing in a general seat last election.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei

Metiria Turei came into Parliament in 2002 as the only Māori Green MP. Photo: RNZ / Elliot Childs

The Green's launched its National Māori Campaign and Ms Turia said they could see candidates in all seven Māori seats for the first time.

While Ms Turei said the focus was on the party vote, if the people wanted her to represent them she said "that's great".

Ms Turei entered Parliament in 2002 as the only Māori Green MP but said now a third of its caucus were Māori and this election the party would stand Māori in general seats too.

The selection process over the next two weeks will see five names revealed and among them is likelye to be Marama Davidson for Tāmaki Makaurau and Jack McDonald for Te Tai Hauāuru.

Political parties line up for Ratana

The Māori seats are likely to a topic of conversation at Ratana Pā as politicians attend the first political event of the year just south of Whanganui.

Traditionally, the Ratana Pā paepae is full of tailored suits with an array of party coloured neck ties but this year there will be a break in custom.

Politicians arrive at Ratana Pa for the annual celebration marking the birthday of Ratana church's founder.

Politicians arriving at Ratana Pā last year for the annual celebration marking the birthday of Ratana church's founder. Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

Today Prime Minister Bill English will be welcomed on with five of his MPs, including Education Minister Hekia Parata and Environment Minister Nick Smith, along with Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

Meanwhile, all other political parties will attend the formalities tomorrow as the first Cabinet meeting of the year clashes with the political pōwhiri tomorrow.

The Ratana Movement has long had a history with politics reaching all the way back to 1935 where the church began a formal political arrangement with the Labour Party when two Ratana MPs agreed to vote alongside the party.

That relationship continued for decades but in recent elections the Labour Party hasn't been able to gain the same support from the Ratana movement.

While the sitting MP is Labour's Adrian Rurawhe, prior to 2014 the seat was held by the Māori Party's Dame Tariana Turia for three terms.

Dame Tariana is from the Ratana movement as is Mr Rurawhe but Labour doesn't neccessarily have the seat in the bag.

Adrian Rurawhe during caucus run 1.03.16

Adrian Rurawhe Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Rurawhe sits at 29 on the Labour list, just third from the bottom, and last year the Labour Party leader, Andrew Little, offended people when he said the Ratana visit was "ritualistic" and politicians go up there to parade themselves, refering to it as a "bit of a beauty parade".

Dame Tariana who is still a member of the Māori Party is critical of Labour's efforts and said no major Māori development in her area had happened during the term of a Labour government.

So with just months to go till the next general election this is an important Ratana Day, every seat counts and the parties will be doing their best to compete for the Ratana nod.

Another movement with strong ties to Ratana is the Kīngitanga and they will be welcomed onto the marae this morning.

Unlike Ratana, the Kīngitanga has already announced its support for a political party - the Māori Party. They chose the party despite the current Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta being a member of the Kīngitanga.

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