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Gains in govt have been hard won: Flavell

NZN 30/03/2017 Paul McBeth

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says his party achieved hard-won gains in return for supporting the government that wouldn't be available in opposition.

Flavell, who is also Minister for Maori Development, told Te Toia, Te Haumatia - The Maori Leadership Forum - in Wellington on Thursday that his party achieved policy gains and funds for Maori initiatives such as Whanau Ora and stable government as a support partner, delivering actual benefits for Maori.

Flavell rejected accusations the Maori Party has nothing to show for its support of the National-led administration.

He cited recent wins in resource management reform to enshrine iwi consultation after two years of negotiation and the Te Ture Whenua Bill, which overhauls governance of collectively-owned Maori land.

"I get brassed off when people have a go at us because they don't know the scraps going on," Flavell said.

The latest One News Colmar Brunton poll this week showed support for the Maori Party rose to 4 per cent from 1 per cent, which would translate into five seats in parliament.

A poll of polls by Curia has the party averaging 2.4 per cent, which equates to three MPs. Currently, it has two MPs - Flavell and Marama Fox.

The party has shown a harder political edge under the presidency of Tukuroirangi Morgan and Maori King Tuheitia.

Flavell urged Maori leaders in the audience to become more politically active, saying the biggest challenge his party had faced was lack of succession planning when Pita Sharples left in 2011, a move that elevated him to co-leader.

One of Flavell's major pieces of work has been the Te Ture Whenua bill, to help drive agricultural business development on iwi land.

Last year the Waitangi Tribunal found some valid concerns were raised about the government's process in overhauling the law and urged the Crown to tread carefully to ensure it garnered broad-based support.

Flavell said he wrangled with the cabinet for six months over the bill. He was scheduled to meet Maori leaders over the proposed legislation late Thursday.

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