Maori Party looks good in polls

21:18, Nov 21 2011

The Maori Party looks set to retain its four seats in Parliament, giving National a potentially powerful buffer if Saturday should turn out to be a tight race.

The latest Te Karere DigiPoll has it retaining Te Tai Tonga, which was previously seen as vulnerable.

That is on top of earlier polls showing it is also likely to retain Waiariki and Tamaki Makaurau, two other seats previously seen as likely to swing to Labour.

Prime Minister John Key is urging supporters of other parties to vote strategically to avoid a Labour-led government comprising three or four minor parties.

The rise of NZ First appears to have spooked Mr Key into sounding the warning, despite polls showing National streets ahead of Labour.

National has ruled NZ First out of government and could face defeat, even if it polls in the 40s.

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But if the Maori Party is returned with four MPs, that could also place it in the role of kingmaker. And while the Maori Party has said it could work with either National or Labour, it has been in coalition with National for the last three years.

But co-leader Tariana Turia said yesterday there were no guarantees. The Maori Party was blindsided over the GST rise and it had caused tension, she said.

The party would go into any negotiations with its eyes wider open than in 2008.

- Fairfax NZ