Maori Party offers olive branch to Labour, who could vanquish them
The Maori Party has offered an olive branch to Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern, saying its members want it to work with Labour.
The party currently supports the National-led government, despite its formation as a breakaway of Labour.
Labour's new Maori deputy leader Kelvin Davis could boost their vote in the single seat that the Maori Party hold, kicking them out of Parliament.
But the Maori Party say if they do make it back in they are keen to work with Labour.
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"Maori people throughout the country are telling me they want our party to work with Labour if it's in a position to form a government after September 23," party president Tuku Morgan said in a press release.
Davis said he was open to working with the Maori Party if it "stepped their game up" and made it back into Parliament in the first place.
Davis is the first Maori MP to hold the deputy leadership of the Labour Party.
Labour currently holds six of the seven Maori seats - with Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell holding the last, and guaranteeing the Maori Party its two spots in Parliament.
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox welcomed Ardern and Davis into the new roles.
"It's the best practical move they've made in the last three years. The polling results haven't changed significantly, they could have made the decision earlier, but this is a positive decision," Fox said.
Today we saw Kelvin Davis not dismiss the idea [of working with the Maori Party] but saying the Maori Party will have to step up their game. My response is to say that it's good to see that Labour have finally stepped up their game."
Relations between Andrew Little and the Maori Party had been strained, and Fox said this was a good opportunity for a reset.
"We believe that they have treated their Maori MPs appallingly," Fox said.
All seven of the MPs standing for Maori seats in the Labour party aren't part of the list, meaning they have to win their seat to make it into Parliament. Davis may be moved back on to the list in light of his new role as deputy.
Fox rated both Davis and Ardern, whom she had worked with on various issues.
"They're yet to be seen in a leadership position. I'm sure they are up to the challenge, but the pressure is markedly different in these roles."
If the Maori Party was in the position to decide which side became Government, Fox said it would be up to its members to decide.
She admitted that the membership leaned left - as she did - but it was still pragmatic.
"We are a party of progress, and we are willing to work with any Government, left or right," Fox said.