Mana sets its sights on Labour seats

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2011

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The Mana Party now faces the daunting task of cementing its position at the general election, and neither Labour nor the Maori Party are going to give up without a fight.

Following his success in the Tai Tokerau by-election at the weekend, leader Hone Harawira said the party would target Labour's constituents and hadn't ruled out standing in the other Maori electorates.

The party was a voice for the young and poor who had been let down by other parliamentary parties including Labour, he said.

He wanted to try and work with the Maori Party for the greater Maori good.

However, as of last night neither Tariana Turia nor Pita Sharples had heard from Mr Harawira, despite his saying they would be the first calls he made after winning.

Former Green MP, and now Mana Party member, Sue Bradford, said there was a mood of exhilaration at Mana's founding conference on Sunday but people realised they had a big job ahead of them to make a credible showing in the general election.

"Anyone that has a sense of how big that is, is right. It's a bit daunting how much work there is to do, but there's lots of enthusiasm."

She did not rule out standing as a candidate for Mana in November but said no decisions had been made. Whatever happens she will continue to be "quietly supportive" of the party.

But Mr Harawira is not the only one with his eye on more seats.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the party would be going out to win in Tai Tokerau and the other four Maori electorates it did not currently hold.

He admitted that may be a hard ask in Mrs Turia's stronghold of Te Tai Hauauru.

"I don't think Maori people like to see the squabbling between different political parties. It's all very well for Hone now to say he wants to talk but just two days ago he was using pretty foul language about what he thought of the Maori Party and what they'd done."

Everyone who had worked with Mr Harawira in the past had fallen out with him which showed he was not a strong coalition partner, Mr Goff said. He has repeatedly ruled out working with Mr Harawira himself.

Asked about other possible Mana MPs, Mr Goff said he did not believe they would bring any non-Maori MPs into Parliament.

Despite losing the by-election on Saturday, Mr Goff said Labour MP Kelvin Davis was now in a strong position to take the seat in November having closed the gap with Mr Harawira.

"The big loser was the Maori Party ... [it] was decimated, that's got to be bad news for Pita Sharples and Rahui Katene and Te Ururoa Flavell. Those are seats that are under direct pressure from Labour. I believe we could win them."

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Dr Sharples has also hit out at Mr Harawira's plans to expand, saying the Maori Party will be going out to win back Te Tai Tokerau in November.

- Stuff

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