A weak showing in yesterday's by-election shows the Maori Party is ''finished'' Labour leader David Shearer says, giving his party a clearer run at winning back the Maori seats.
Labour's Meka Whaitiri won the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election by 1761 votes, while the contest also saw Mana beat the Maori Party candidate by more than 500 votes in the race for second.
Shearer described Mana as an up and coming force yesterday, and this morning said the Maori Party's relationship with National was destroying its credibility with votes.
''I think the Maori Party is finished, frankly. I do think they're going to slide away to nothing,'' Shearer told TV3's The Nation.
Commentators have noted that the combined Mana and Maori Party vote was larger than Labour's vote in the by-election, with some claiming a combined party could threaten Labour.
Shearer said the two parties had taken very different political lines and he believed the turmoil in the Maori Party, which has had a long running leadership battle, would help Labour.
''I think the Maori Party will disappear and we will have a much clearer run. We're going to be going out to contest those seats really heavily.''
Shearer believed next year Labour could win ''certainly two, if not the whole lot'' of the seven seats.
Currently Labour holds three of the Maori seats, as does the Maori Party, with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira holding one.
Does David Cunliffe need to resign as Labour leader?Related story: David Cunliffe's leadership on the line