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Electorates only for Labour Maori MPs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017

<span style="font-size:13px;">Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said the Labour Party was out to grow Maori representation</span> © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said the Labour Party was out to grow Maori representation Labour's Maori seat MPs are pinning all their hopes on electorate wins in the September election, asking to stay off the party's list.

The party has granted them an exemption from appearing on the list after a joint request, Labour leader Andrew Little announced on Tuesday.

"In the Maori seats there is something very special going on and Labour's Maori MPs are standing there saying vote for us, vote for our voice, we've got a track record and it's better than anything any other party can offer," he said.

The policy is a direct challenge to the alliance that has formed between the Maori Party and Mana Party and their decision not compete against each other for the Maori seats.

Labour currently hold six Maori seats, with the seventh held by Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta said the message was simple.

"We are eliminating the two-for-one message because in order to get us into government you need to be able to vote for our party as well," she said.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, who will come up against his electorate predecessor, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, in September, said the Labour Party was out to grow Maori representation.

"There's seven Maori seats and we want to win all seven of those plus we expect to see more Maori MPs come in off the list," he said.

Mr Davis said it was flipping the two-for-one argument on its head.

"We're saying get us as the candidate and you'll get more Maori in on the Labour party list.''

He's predicting the Labour Party post-election will have more Maori MPs than any party before.

Mr Little has rejected the idea that the best chance of increasing the party's Maori representation would be to have the Maori seat MPs also on list, just in case they lose the electorate vote.

"No it's to make sure they win their seats and they're going to win their seats," he said.

Prime Minister Bill English says Labour appears to be having an internal stoush over who is highest on the party list.

"It looks like another argument over Willie Jackson," he told reporters.

Labour shoulder-tapped Mr Jackson to stand as a list candidate, promising him a winnable spot.

That was reported to have caused unrest among MPs who thought they could be pushed down the list to make room for him.

Now the Maori MPs won't be on the list, there's plenty of space for Mr Jackson.

The party's list will be prepared in April.

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