Labour launches campaign for Māori seats

By Heta Gardiner

Labour brought out the big guns for its Māori seat campaign launch, and it didn't take long for the Māori Campaign Director to put the boot in to the Māori Party. 

Willie Jackson is continuing to push for a deal to be made between Labour and the Green Party in the Māori seats. He laid out his desire for a deal at the Party's Māori Campaign launch today, which the leader attended. 

Jackson says, "They've been quite useless the last two years. What they've managed to get for our people in the budget is a disgrace! What the hell are our people getting from them?"

But it wasn't all about mud-slinging, Labour also talked strategy, with Jackson urging further dialogue about Labour and the Greens making deals in the Māori seats. 

Jackson told the press conference that, "Peeni has quite a fight on his hands. Why can't we have the kōrero about doing a deal with the Green Party?" 

In recent weeks, Willie Jackson has approached some Green Māori seat candidates to encourage them to tell their voters to give their candidate votes to Labour, in an effort to stop the Māori Party from winning some of the seats. He wasn't willing to reveal to media which candidates he spoke to, but he told Te Kāea exclusively that Marama Davidson was one of those candidates. 

In 2014, Peeni Henare won the Tāmaki Makaurau seat, getting more than 7,500 votes. Rangi McLean of the Māori Party got 6,071 and Marama Davidson 3,136. Since then, Marama has made it into Parliament and increased her profile significantly. If she takes some of Peeni Henare's votes, Labour could be in trouble. 

However, the leadership isn't on board yet.

Andrew Little says, "At the moment we are not looking at making a deal."

What is the right tune for the voters? Time will tell.