Te Tai Tokerau candidates square off

Last updated 08:43 05/08/2014

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Labour's candidate for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis appears to have backed off a campaign attacking Mana leader Hone Harawira.

The move comes after it was revealed a smear campaign was being planned against the incumbent.

A series of emails leaked to 3 News showed Davis' campaign team had designed a website to attack Harawira and his financial backer, Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom.

In a message to Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett, a member of Davis' campaign team, Kaye Taylor said the fight in the northern electorate was "unique".

"We are fighting against Hone who is being funded by a multi-millionaire, who is frankly trying to buy his way into parliament," she wrote.

"The website is confrontational, as it is a wake-up call, it's not aimed at traditional supporters. Honestly, I think National supporters may contribute."

Barnett said the site would not be approved by the party's publications committee, because it wasn't in line with the wider party's "Vote Positive" message.

Harawira has called for Davis to either quit the campaign or dump his campaign team.

"If there's any truth to what I have seen [yesterday], then somebody's head should roll," the Mana Party leader said.

He said he was "gutted" Davis was planning to launch an attack campaign against him with "money solicited from National".

"I'm gutted, and Maori in Tai Tokerau will be seriously troubled that Davis and his mates are cozying up to the people who have caused so much damage to our communities," he said.

Davis had posted a message on his Facebook page in response, saying that although the website idea had been pulled, he would not back down.

"I make no apologies if there's another Maori politician in the north feeling pretty sensitive about all the criticism he's copping from hapu throughout Te Tai Tokerau because of the con job [with Dotcom]," he wrote.

"I'm prepared to cop the criticism from him because it's just the price a person pays when he stands up for his people and his principles."

Davis offered his account number for anyone who wanted to help take down Dotcom.

Labour leader David Cunliffe this morning said the whole party was on board the Vote Positive campaign.

"There's been a bit of a scrap at the local level up in Te Tai Tokerau," he said on Morning Report.

"Kelvin and Mr Harawira are both strong contenders and it's got a bit bristly.

"Our head office gave guidance to our campaign team up there, just to keep it positive and I support that."

Cunliffe denied there were divisions within the Labour Party.

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Prime Minister John Key said Davis was most likely doing what he could to protect his job as an MP.

"Because don't forget, he probably will not get there unless he wins Te Tai Tokerau," Key said.

"The way Labour are polling, which is in the mid-20s, it's very unlikely he would get there on the list."

- Stuff

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