Labour will not put any of its Maori seat MPs on the party’s list, with leader Andrew Little saying he backs the MPs to win all seven seats across the country.
But Mr Little would not confirm how many new Maori MPs the party has waiting in the wings to take up list spots if some Labour MPs don’t win their seats.
Mr Little says he will take “nothing for granted” in the fight for the seats, taking aim at the Maori Party for not doing enough for New Zealand’s Maori people.
“The voice the Maori Party says it has brought to the table over the last nine years is not achieving greater benefits and more positive change for Maori.”
He says under the National government with its Maori Party coalition partners, New Zealand has seen the lowest level of Maori home ownership in years, problems in educational performance for Maori continue to persist and there is still an overrepresentation of homelessness Maori.
Under Labour Party rules, a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances and all of Labour’s Maori seat MPs have opted off the list.
Mr Little says if Labour is able to form a government in the next election, it will be a government with more Maori MPs than it has now.
Labour’s MP for Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta says it was Labour’s Maori caucus that approached the party leadership with this decision.
“Today’s decision wasn’t an easy one, to the extent that this next election is a personal one for every Maori voter in every household who wants to see a different New Zealand.”
She says Labour is planning on eliminating the “two for one” message coming from the Maori and Mana Parties.
Last month, both parties signed a deal to work together in the lead-up to the September election.
The agreement means the Maori Party will not put up a candidate in Tai Tokerau electorate and the Mana Party will not put up candidates in the other six Maori electorates.
Mana leader Hone Harawira lost the Tai Tokerau seat to Labour’s Kelvin Davis in the 2014 election.
Asked if he was worried about the challenge from Mr Harawira, Mr Davis had two words – “Kim Dotcom.”
“People haven’t forgotten that up there and he [Mr Harawira] has a lot to make up. I’m confident I’ll turn it over, I stand by my record over the last two and a half years against anything from the previous nine years.”
A ‘negative political move’
Prime Minister Bill English has slammed Labour’s move, saying it’s “another sign of instability in the party.”
He says accusing the Maori Party of doing little is a negative political move.
“Maori are doing well, picking up progress looking ahead and we’re focused on working with Maori over those opportunities.”
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says Labour’s move does not worry him.
He says the Maori Party’s record speaks for itself, in terms of its inroads with lobbying National on important Maori issues.
“People hugely admire the work we have been able to do even though there are only two of us. Put that against what Labour have done – nothing.”
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says she is “astounded” by the way Mr Little is treating the Maori in his caucus.
“I thought there could be no other depths to the way they would treat their Maori MPs.”
She says the Labour leader has demoted Ms Mahuta as well as seeking a high list spot for Willie Jackson over other Maori MPs.
“Andrew Little when are you going to wake up and realise you cannot do this to your MPs?”
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