Maori Party co-leaders warn the Labour Party's grip on the Maori seats is loosening

The Maori Party and Mana Party welcomed on to the mare at Ratana  -  From left; Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, Maori ...
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

The Maori Party and Mana Party welcomed on to the mare at Ratana - From left; Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Hauauru Howie Tamati, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and Maori Party president Tuku Morgan.

The Maori Party has fired shots at the Labour Party saying their exclusive relationship with Ratana has come to an end.

The Maori King's son, Whatumoana Paki, and members of Kingitanga descended on Ratana Pa, near Whanganui, on Monday where they were welcomed along with the Maori Party co-leaders and Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira.

Traditionally party leaders and Kingitanga are welcomed separately but the united front is symbolic of the Maori King Tuheitia's abandoning of the Labour Party in a speech at the anniversary of his coronation last year, which led to him throwing his support behind the Maori Party.

In a rare move the Maori Party came onto Ratana Pa alongside the Maori King's people.
Warwick Smith

In a rare move the Maori Party came onto Ratana Pa alongside the Maori King's people.

Ratana has a close bond with Labour and its MP in the Te Tai Hauauru seat, Adrian Rurawhe, is the brother of the Ratana church secretary, Piri Rurawhe.

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But Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell told media after the official welcome that the relationship between the people of Ratana and Labour won't stand the test of time.

Prime Minister Bill English is greeted at Ratana.
Warwick Smith/FAIRFAX NZ

Prime Minister Bill English is greeted at Ratana.

"I think it's finished. At the end of the day, as many speakers said today, that was made for a place and a time. Times have moved on, the political environment is totally different and we've tried to stress the point," Flavell said.

"Kingitanga is on the same wave length as us, which is why they came out to support the Maori Party last year - and the view is that the Ratana movement is pretty much aligned with our philosophies and kaupapa (principles), which we've been aligned with for ten years.

"We're at a time now where we need to put a stake in the ground and make that a reality - one political movement under a Maori Party banner, which will pull back those seats from Labour and stay in kaupapa Maori hands forever," he said.

Labour currently hold six out of seven of the Maori seats.

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The Maori Party, under the presidency of Tuku Morgan, who is also a close advisor to the King, is looking to build a relationship with Harawira to try and win back the seats.

Harawira said talks were ongoing and there were plenty of "sticking points".

"There needs to be an understanding that this will be a different path we're taking," he said.

Much of Harawira's issue with the Maori Party stems from their support for the National Party and policies that have been implemented under their government.

"Maori want us to try and work together - our job is to make that happen."

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Bill English was welcomed on to Ratana Pa and after the proceedings he told media that he enjoyed the "hospitality, respectfulness and warmth" he received.

English isn't attending Waitangi next month on the two days political leaders traditionally go.

Harawira criticised him for that decision and said "any man who purports to be the leader of the nation needs to front up at the birth place of the nation - and if he can't he'll never be leader".

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said Ratana and Waitangi are two completely different places and Waitangi would always be a place of "controversy and provocative action" but that shouldn't stop English from going.

 - Stuff

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