National to consider running candidates in Māori seats

By Leah Te Whata

The debate is heating up surrounding the possibility of National running candidates in the Māori seats. After a clean sweep by Labour in last year’s election, it could be one possible way to regain Māori votes.

The National party are looking for more supporters, and the Maori seats could be the answer.

National MP Jami - Lee Ross says, "It's a conversation that we have to have and we will be doing that. Simon Bridges is the first Māori leader of the National Party and we're very proud of that."

But the Associate Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson says it's a waste of time.

“It's a waste of time to listen to what they say about the Māori seats. We know what their position has been on the Māori seats in the past. They don't support even having the Māori seats,” says Jackson.

In 2008 the party announced their policy that would abolish the seven Māori seats after all treaty settlements were completed. Act leader David Seymour says National doesn't need the Māori seats.

Seymour says, "I don't think it matters a great deal, they've shown that they can elect many people of Māori descent without the Māori seats. The people who have won the Māori seats appear to be doing very little for Māori within the Labour caucus which we've seen with charter schools that they haven't stuck up for."

Labour MP Kiritapu Allan says the party will struggle to regain the support of Māori voters.

"If they want to do that good on them, but I think that it's going to be a big struggle for that party to regain the hearts and minds, actually I'm not sure they ever held the hearts and minds of our people," says Allan.

MP Jami – Lee Ross says, "I think there are a lot of good things we can talk to Māori about. Do we have to do that by way of a Māori seat, not necessarily, but it's something we have to discuss."

The issue is still up in the air but the party has until the next election to decide whether they'll put forward candidates for the Māori seats.