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Maori Party founder backs Clark's UN bid

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/08/2016

The Maori Party's founder is supporting Helen Clark's bid to lead the UN, which puts her at odds with its current co-leaders.

Dame Tariana Turia says Miss Clark is the right person for the job, and despite their past differences she has "considerable regard" for the former Labour prime minister.

Co-leader Marama Fox on Monday said her party wasn't supporting Miss Clark because of her record on indigenous rights.

She said Miss Clark didn't want to sign up to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and her government introduced the foreshore and seabed legislation.

On Tuesday, Ms Fox and the party's other co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, issued a joint statement justifying their position.

"We'd love to support our own but we can't, in good conscience, take the populist route of backing her bid," they said.

"Helen Clark has many qualities that would help with being an effective secretary-general but her actions against Maori as Labour prime minister cause us to doubt her attitude towards indigenous people."

Dame Tariana, who quit the Labour Party over the foreshore and seabed legislation and formed the Maori Party, says Miss Clark has all the skills and abilities needed by a UN secretary-general.

"I can certainly understand them taking the position that they have ... but my view is we have important issues on our agenda moving into the future, not least the position that our people are in today."

The Maori Party's stance has upset Labour leader Andrew Little.

"It's really disappointing ... I think, frankly, it stinks," he said on Monday.

The government fully supports Miss Clark, who is one of 12 candidates in the race to replace Ban Ki-moon when he steps down at the end of the year.

The UN Security Council has held its first ballot to whittle down the number of candidates, and Miss Clark didn't do well.

Reuters reported she ended up in fifth place, with former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres leading the pack and former Slovenian president Danilo Turk coming in second.

The 15-member council is due to hold another ballot at the end of the week.

Eventually it will reach a consensus on a candidate it can recommend to the UN General Assembly.

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