Waatea News Column: The strategic math behind the Maori Party


John Tamihere and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer were announced last week as the new Co-leaders of the Māori Party.

What is the strategic math behind a possible return to power for the Māori Party?

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer will be standing in Te Tai Hauāuru. Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe won the sea in 2017 by 1039 votes over the Māori Party candidate, Howie Tamati, but what makes the electorate so competitive in 2020 is that the former Green Party MP, Jack McDonald who won 2798 votes in 2017 came out in January this year endorsing Ngarewa-Packer for Te Tai Hauāuru.

This will make retaining the seat a much more difficult challenge for Labour, especially with a candidate as invisible as Rurawhe, whose endorsement of Labour’s decision to open up Taranaki to a huge onshore oil and gas block offer will galvanise Green voters against him.

Tāmaki Makaurau is just as interesting. Peeni Henare comfortably won for Labour over the Māori Party’s Shane Taurima by a staggering 3809 votes, but with all due respect to Shane, the softly spoken Peeni hasn’t ever met a candidate like Tamihere.

Tamihere initially won Tamaki Makaurau back in 2002 and his bruising campaigning style against Phil Goff built a huge social media following that is mostly based in that electorate.

Peeni has 7900 Facebook followers, whereas Tamihere has over 11 000 most of whom are in the seat, add to this the decision by Marama Davidson to actively campaign this time in Tāmaki Makaurau, and Labour face a real challenge in both electorates.

If the Māori Party win one electorate seat and can gain 1.8% of the Party vote, they will pull an extra MP off the Party-list. Those two MPs in an election that could be very close might be the difference between Government and Opposition.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

First published on Waatea News.


  1. Are we going backwards though? Last time I looked The Maori Party helped the Natz subjugate Maori leading to the massive issues of asset theft, wage theft, unprecedented housing demand, environmental degradation, Meth evictions and homelessness which has not helped Maori at all.

    I’d be more supportive of Mana back because I doubt Hone would ever sell out to the Natz and probably not Labour either, therefore would be an independent voice.

  2. With the electorate boundaries now officially changed, in Tamaki that adds Te Atatu South into the mix. Potentially another 8000 voters. The southern boundary changes too throws another 8000 voters in to pot. And Waiheke too!

    All the Maori party need to do is one of two things.
    1. Win ‘a’ seat or,
    2. Score enough party votes to win a list seat
    3. the bonus, both of the above!

    That will annoy the fuck out of labour if the Maori Party is there only choice to get them back into government!
    Oh those frontbums will be spewing!

  3. ” Strategic maths ‘

    A vote for the Maori party = a Bridges- Bennett government.

    The B team with John Phillip Key giving directions.

    • Or, they could prop up No Friends Labour?
      They could ‘ream’ a desperate to govern again labour just like NZF did.

          • I am not a Maori but looking on I do not see that as a group they have advanced under Labour . What is your opinion .? Am I missing something

            • No I miss spoke. Maniapoto don’t have any stake in taranaiki oil because they took a cash settlement. They don’t have any management rights. They did that.

            • There’s an American saying about the black slave in the ‘house’ is better than a black person in the fields. You know what I’m saying?
              Like Stockholm syndrome.

              Maori MP’s within the Labour party are committed to the party first, Maori second.

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