Andrew Little seems to be at odds with some of Labour’s Maori MPs over their placement on the party list for this year’s election.
The battle for the Māori seats is hotting up, with the deal between Mana and the Māori Party not to stand against each other, putting more pressure on the Labour candidates.
During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.
“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”
That was on February 21. It sounded odd at the time.
When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.
“The list committee would do its work and will hear from everybody but the Māori MPs are saying to me right now do not give us high list places, we want to fight this out and stand on our own digs in our seats because we know we’re going to win and we’re confident about our success.”
But the Maori MPs are not singing the same waiata.
The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.
The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.
“I haven’t asked anything,” he said. “It is a distraction, I didn’t go on the list last time but the party will decide if they are going to allow us to remain on the list or not.”
The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.
“I haven’t talked anything about the list other than getting the nomination sorted for Tāmaki Makaurau.”
A few weeks beforehand, Mr Little had announced Willie Jackson as a Labour candidate to help target the urban Māori vote, promising him a high list position.
There have been reports that there were attempts to pressure Henare into standing aside for Jackson in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate.
It seems odd that Little wants the Maori MPs to be shunted down the list. If he is as confident he says he is about he Labour Maori MPs retaining their electorates then a high list placing will make no difference as to who will make it in off the list. It would only make a difference if any of them lose their electorate.
Maori MPs will have some interest in where they end up being placed on the list, especially in comparison to new party members like Jackson. There is mana involved.
It appears that Labour are putting a lot of effort into attracting Auckland votes. If that takes precedent then Maori voters may wonder how much Labour takes them for granted.