Maori Party candidate Chris McKenzie has a slight lead in Te Tai Haurauru, edging out his Labour counterpart in the battle for Tariana Turia’s seat, according to a new poll.
Tonight’s Native Affairs-Reid Research poll also shows Maori want to have a seat at the top table, even if it’s with National, though Labour is the preferred coalition partner.
The poll of 500 voters taken between July 21 and August 8 shows McKenzie, a former treaty negotiator who has been working as an advisor to the Maori Party, slightly ahead of Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe on 29 per cent.
Rurawhe, the great-grandson of the prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, had previously been tabbed as the favourite by many commentators.
The Greens’ Jack MacDonald was third on 11 per cent, followed by the Mana candidate, Jordan Winiata, who was not announced until today.
The seat, which stretches from southern Waikato to northern Wellington, has been held by the retiring Maori Party founder Turia since 2002.
The news will come as some relief to the Maori Party, which currently holds three of the seven Maori seats though with Turia and fellow co-founder Pita Sharples who holds Tamaki Makaurau retiring, the party faces a stiff challenge to maintain those seats.
Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is expected to retain his Waiariki seat though Mana’s Annette Sykes is mounting a strong challenge there.
Labour, which also polled the highest in Te Tai Tonga, was the favoured party in Te Tai Hauauru with 36 per cent support, followed by the Maori Party on 23 per cent, National on 12 and Internet-Mana on 11.
Voters were also asked who they would prefer the Maori Party to do a deal with if it held the balance of power after the election, with 63 per cent of voters saying Labour and 24 per cent National.
But the Maori Party’s mantra of needing a seat at the top table to make change appears to have hit home, with 67.4 per cent saying they would support a deal with National if that party was to regain power.
The poll has a margin of error of 4.38 per cent.
Meanwhile, forecasting website iPredict, which allows punters to bet on political and economic events, had McKenzie as low as 8 per cent last week though that had climbed to almost 19 per cent earlier today.
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