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Maori Party rejects non-kaupapa claim

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/02/2017

The Maori Party have criticised Labour leader Andrew Little over his claims they are not kaupapa Maori.

Mr Little implied the party didn't follow Maori principles in an interview on RNZ on Tuesday, saying he would not work with them to form government if he wins the September election.

"The Maori Party is not kaupapa Maori. We know that. It has conceded on every important issue affecting Maori in the last nine years," he said.

"We will campaign and Labour Maori MPs will campaign strongly on what we have to offer Maori, which is something way better than what they're getting at the moment."

But Maori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox say the comments belittle the legacy of Maori who have championed the cause for rangatiratanga.

"His statements today only strengthen our resolve that the Maori seats belong with kaupapa-based parties and not in the hands of someone who would so effortlessly dismiss our history and deny us our right to enact rangatiratanga," Ms Fox said.

Mr Flavell said Mr Little claimed to know and understand more about kaupapa than Maori, but was belittling the struggle and legacy of Maori political movements.

Mr Little also revealed he was not concerned about a deal between the Maori Party and Mana Party, announced in Whangarei on Monday.

Mana leader Hone Harawira will run in the Maori seat of Te Tai Tokerau without competition from the Maori Party.

In return, Mana will not run a candidate against the Maori Party in the six other Maori seats.

Mr Little says his party's Maori MPs and candidates want to be confident in their success so have been asking for low list places.

"They are fearful of a high list place because they don't want to give the impression that they are kind of held up by belts and braces," he said.

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