Maori Party reaches out to Mana, despite having 'no appetite' for a formal alliance
The Maori Party want to build bridges with the Mana Party and its leader Hone Harawira, but says it has "no appetite" for a formal alliance.
After years of tension between the two rival parties, the recently-appointed Maori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan met with Harawira saying it was important for the "unification" of Maori.
It was just a "meet and greet", Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said, but she admitted bridges needed to be built.
"I'm open to what the future might bring," she said.
"What I do know is that we won't be attacking each other. That's not helpful to anybody."
She didn't know Harawira well, but her co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell had a history of conflict with him.
Flavell lodged a formal complaint against Harawira in 2011, when the latter was still in the Maori Party, which led to Harawira's resignation from the party a month later.
Flavell had called Harawira's actions in a comment-piece for the Sunday Star Times unethical and "without integrity".
Harawira has subsequently called Flavell "not particularly charismatic", adding he didn't have a pleasant, positive face like that of the previous Maori Party leader Pita Sharples.
When the Maori party president was asked on RNZ whether the meeting with Harawira had the backing of Flavell, Morgan responded: "Te Ururoa is not the party president, I am. My track-record is about building relationships, that's how I've survived all these years".
Fox said it was too early to talk about whether the Maori Party would endorse Harawira for the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. However, the relationship with Harawira could be "very important" in the lead up to the 2017 election.
Flavell said in a statement that the Maori Party has proven it could work with any party if it's in the best interests of Maori and the nation.
"The beauty of MMP is parties can work together while remaining fully independent of each other. Hone has managed to get important issues on the agenda as has the Maori Party. The value of that shouldn't be underestimated."
The goal of the parties was to "claw back" the Maori seats from the "impotent" members of the Labour Party, Morgan told RNZ on Wednesday.
"It's a no-brainer. It's important actually, for the sake of the unification of our people that we talk. This is a serious attempt by the Maori Party to begin talking to Hone Harawira."
Morgan had no "hidden agendas" in extending the olive branch to Mana.