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Maori Party To Begin Talks Over Govt Role

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Alastair Bull of NZPA

Auckland, Nov 9 NZPA - The Maori Party will today begin trying to convince its members that it should work with the new National-led Government so it can gain policy successes for Maori people.

The party added one seat to the four it held in the last Parliament when Rahui Katene narrowly defeated Labour's Mahara Okeroa in Te Tai Tonga.

But it failed to achieve the clean sweep of the seven Maori seats that it had aimed for.

Labour's Parekura Horomia staved off the challenge of Derek Fox in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Nanaia Mahuta beat Angeline Greensill in Hauraki-Waikato.

Maori Party MPs Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia, Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell all retained their seats with strong majorities.

Incoming prime minister John Key last night said he spoke to Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia about the possibility of being "connected" to the Government in some way.

Mr Key said he and the Maori Party would discuss that again some time next week.

Before that the Maori Party will talk to its own members asking what they want it to do.

It is a repeat of proceedings after the last election, when Maori Party leaders went to 28 hui and talked to their supporters.

But this time the only party it will be doing deals with is National.

Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata told party faithful in Auckland last night that Mr Key, who grew up in a state house, was a man the party could get on with better than his predecessor Don Brash.

"He is a person who was brought up in modest circumstances and a person who is willing to listen," Prof Winiata said.

"So we hope that you will understand that the Maori Party will need to speak with the National Party and we will do that willingly if invited to do so."

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said he hoped it would get a say the way money was spent in portfolios such as education, health or social welfare and not just Maori Affairs.

"We don't want to be buried in some sort of ministry that's going to be treated as second class," Dr Sharples said.

Prof Winiata said he "doubted very much" that National would follow through with its policy of eventually abolishing the Maori seats.

"I think National will still want to talk to us because they have a long future with Maori," Prof Winiata said.

"If there is a sign that people still want an alternative Maori voice in Parliament then it will be dangerous for National, or any party, to get rid of them."

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