Lance O'Sullivan backs Maori Party
New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O'Sullivan has endorsed the Maori Party, saying it's hard to be popular and still do the right thing.
And the Northland doctor, who said he had turned down several offers to stand in this election, was not ruling out a future in politics.
O'Sullivan has thrown his celebrity behind the Maori Party saying he believed compromise was the best way to advance Maori interests, and the Maori Party was best placed to do that.
O'Sullivan's face is plastered over party billboards across the country.
He said that despite warnings it was "reckless and risky" to publicly endorse a party he felt it was necessary.
"I hope that my small - and I do think it's small - contribution to this campaign could help to bring a positive light to what the Maori Party has achieved and has the potential to achieve," he said.
O'Sullivan, who also spoke at the party's campaign launch, cited its willingness to straddle the political divide and its focus on issues such as rheumatic fever and healthy homes as being behind his decision.
"I don't think a party that's on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori," he said.
While reluctant to comment specifically on the Internet Mana Party, he said he preferred a positive message over one focused on "pulling down the Government".
He had been forced to make unpopular but necessary decisions in his own career and the Maori Party was willing to do the same, he said.
"I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics," he said.
"Like I say, sometimes the decisions are not popular . . . it's hard to be popular and do the right thing at the same time."
Celebrity has featured prominently in the Maori seats this year, with Internet Mana signing up former Warrior turned TV personality Wairangi Koopu and hip hop artist King Kapisi in paid roles as "youth ambassadors".
O'Sullivan said he hoped his endorsement would encourage people to think about what the Maori Party had achieved, although people should make their own choices about who to vote for.
He wanted to see a greater focus on health and social needs of children, especially those in vulnerable communities.
O'Sullivan said the fact he was so busy prevented him from standing for Parliament himself.
"I'm doing the next best thing I hope - hopefully."