For a second time this week, Māori voters have shown a clear preference for a Labour-Māori Party coalition, this time in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti in a Māori Television Curia Market Research poll released tonight.
Some 49% of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters said they prefer a Labour coalition with the Māori Party, rather than the Green Party or New Zealand First. On Monday, Te Tai Hauāuru voters (in the western North Island) polled for the first of eight Māori Television election debates also threw their support behind a Labour-Māori Party coalition, with 50% favouring the arrangement.
The Green Patry is a strong second choice as Labour partner for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters, preferred by 40%, and New Zealand First is third choice with 23%.
This mirrors Te Tai Hauāuru where voters also backed the Greens (38%) as second pick but showed greater support than Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters for New Zealand First (27%) as a third preference to work with Labour.
On Wednesday's second Māori Television election date, current MP Labour's Meka Whaitiri said the voters would ultimately decide what shape the government took.
"I'd like to say I could make that decision who we go into coalition with but my pay rate's not that high," Whaitiri joked.
"Like I said, we're all related, the three of us, and I know our hearts are in the right place but, ultimately, our voters will decide who to send in as their candidate and who their party is that's going to govern."
Her Māori Party counterpart and whanaunga, Heather Te Au-Skipworth, had no problems saying which way her party would go.
"We absolutely could work with Labour. Our leaders, both John Tamihere and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, have been really clear in saying we will not go with National," she said.
Te Au-Skipworth acknowledged that some Māori Party members would prefer that the party remain on the cross-benches and not align with any government party.
"We will have to go back to our constituents but some are saying that, some are saying sit on the cross-bench and fire."
Whānau will decide
The Green Party's Elizabeth Kerekere acknowledged the strong support for a Labour-Greens coalition but said Māori would have the final say on what happens.
"Our whānau will decide what they want. Just make good decisions people," she said.
With two recent polls saying different things, it is anyone's guess whether Labour will be able to govern alone after the election or may need a coalition partner.
Māori voters in two of the Māori electorates polled so far by Māori Television are clear they want Labour to work with the Māori Party. But for that to happen, the Māori Party must first take one of the Māori seats from Labour or get 5% of the party vote.
With the Māori Party hovering around 1 to 1.5% in recent polls, the party's best and likely only bet is to win a Māori electorate seat. On the basis of this week's polls, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Te Tai Hauāuru voters appear to be indicating that they will not be providing the electorate win the Māori Party is chasing.
The Māori Television Curia Market Research poll was conducted between September 28-29, with a total of 499 voters canvassed. Polling was by landline and mobile with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 per cent.