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Election deal likely between Maori parties

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/02/2017 Peter Wilson, Political Writer

The Maori Party and the Mana Party are about to sign an agreement that's expected to involve electorate deals designed to enhance their chances of winning seats.

Peace moves between the two parties have been going on since July last year when Maori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan approached Mana's leader Hone Harawira.

At the time, Maori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox ruled out an alliance but said they were "open to a more cohesive relationship".

Labour holds six of the Maori seats and Mr Flavell holds the seventh.

He must retain it in the September general election to keep his party alive, and there's speculation Mr Harawira has agreed not to field a candidate in Waiariki.

Mr Flavell retained the seat in 2014 but Mana's Annette Sykes put in a strong run.

In return, the Maori Party could stand aside in Te Tai Tokerau.

Mr Harawira lost the seat in 2014, narrowly beaten by Labour's Kelvin Davis, and the Mana Party ceased to have a presence in parliament.

The Maori Party's candidate drew more than 2500 votes, and it's likely most of them would have gone to Mr Harawira if he'd been given a clear run.

Since then both parties have acknowledged they can't afford to split the Maori vote, and it's possible the agreement could extend beyond Waiariki and Te Tai Tokerau.

Neither party will talk about the agreement ahead of the signing on Monday in Whangarei.

Mr Morgan and Mr Harawira appear to have healed the bitter divisions between their parties.

Mr Harawira was a Maori Party MP until 2011 when he quit, accusing it of supporting government legislation that disadvantaged Maori.

He resigned from parliament, formed the Mana Party, fought a by-election in Te Tai Tokerau and won.

Several reconciliation attempts failed, and Mr Harawira continued as an MP until he lost the seat to Mr Davis.

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