Maori voters look to Jones for Labour: poll
MICHAEL FOX AND HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Shane Jones is the preferred candidate for the Labour Party leadership among Maori voters who believe he is the best man to lead the party and the one who would be the strongest voice on Maori issues, according to a new poll.
Many are yet to be convinced by any of the contenders, however, with one third of Maori voters polled by Te Karere undecided on who they will support or backing candidates outside the three current leadership contenders.
Ahead of the Labour leadership vote this weekend and as Jones, David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson have struggled to separate themselves through a series of public meetings, Jones has been the biggest mover, though he is still seen as the overwhelming underdog.
According to the Te Karere poll, 37 per cent of the 1016 Maori voters surveyed believed Jones, who is of Te Aupouri and Ngai Takoto descent and fluent in Te Reo, would do the best job of leading Labour into the next general election.
Cunliffe, who has said he would implement a series of nationwide hui if he won in order to identify the issues that were important to Maori, garnered 22 per cent of the preferences while Robertson earned only 8 per cent support.
A total of 25 per cent said they did not know who they supported, however, and eight per cent preferred another candidate completely.
List MP Jones was also strongly seen as the candidate who would best represent Maori issues, with 56 per cent saying he was the best man to do that, followed by New Lynn MP Cunliffe on 7 per cent and Wellington Central MP Robertson on 4 per cent.
A total of 32 per cent did not know or backed another candidate.
While Jones is the clear favourite among Maori voters, Cunliffe has the most support, outside of the Labour caucus overall, according to recent polls.
A poll by TV3 on Friday had Cunliffe in the lead and another by TVNZ's Q+A found 39 per cent believed he was the most likely to win next year's general election.
Over the weekend, four of the six Labour affiliated unions - which collectively carry 8.7 per cent of the vote - endorsed Cunliffe to their members.
Jones was backed by 18 per cent of those polled by TVNZ for the Labour leadership, while 15 per cent named Wellington Central MP Robertson - the caucus favourite.
Labour MPs get 40 per cent of the vote in the leadership, party members 40 per cent and the unions the final 20 per cent.
The Te Karere poll surveyed 1016 Maori voters, with 666 on the Maori roll and 350 on the general roll and had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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