Māori Party look for new co-leaders

By Moana Makapelu Lee

Is it a new beginning for the Māori Party following the resignation of remaining co-leader Marama Fox, who's consultancy business turned belly-up leaving her thousands of dollars in debt?

Or is the party in tatters?

Māori Party president Che Wilson has ruled himself and vice-president Kaapua Smith out as a new co-leaders- but the search has already begun.

Wilson says, “We are keeping to our current roles as presidents to continue helping shape the party but we are in discussions and we are looking for the right people who can fill the co-leader roles.”

Fox's intentions were to resign later this year but in the end it looks like she had no choice.

Despite the news, the party remains confident in making a comeback.  They hope to have elected their new leaders when members converge for the AGM in October.

“We are excited now that our review has concluded.  We are in discussions about our branches and evaluating electorates.  Once there we will be able to execute our new strategy moving forward into the years ahead.”

Political commentator and former leader for United Future Peter Dunne says it will take much reviving.

"I think the Māori Party desperately needs a big issue that's going to spark interest, like the foreshore and seabed did originally.  That brings people in and that then gives them a base to build on.  But I think just promising to be more of the Māori Party of old isn't going to be enough for this environment."

However, the allegations of assault against Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri might provide a much-needed window if it goes as far as a by-election. 

“If our sister is stood down, then we will no doubt be putting someone forward,”  Wilson says.

The Māori Party will have much to consider in the coming months.