Hosking breached broadcasting standards

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has ruled the Mike Hosking breached standards when he incorrectly stated on Seven Sharp” you can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate” during the election campaign, and the following night he churlishly dismissed criticism.

On 23 August 2017 he stated:

…so is the fact that you can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate, so what are you going to do now? I’m joking.

That wasn’t a fact, it was false, and he was widely criticised for saying it. The following evening he said:

Now, small clarification for you. Now last night in a throwaway line I appear to have confused the Māori Party around the rules of voting and MMP. Now what I was suggesting, what I was meaning, was that the Māori Party, as their representation stands, is an electorate party. In other words they are only in Parliament because they won an electorate seat. Therefore what I said in referring to voting for them, was to vote for them in a Māori electorate you had to be on the Māori roll, which is true.

Now, the fact that anyone can vote for them as a list party I automatically assumed we all knew given we have been doing this for 20 years for goodness’ sake and it went without saying. So hopefully that clears all of that up.

That was a pathetic response. He blamed the Māori Party for being confused, he gave a lame explanation, and then effectively blamed anyone who didn’t know the fact that anyone could vote for the Māori Party.

If you are not on the Māori roll you can’t vote for a Māori electorate candidate, but you can’t vote for any candidate in any electorate except for the electorate you are enrolled in.

Hosking’s comment was sloppy at best – it appeared to be ignorant. And his response the following night was pathetic and irresponsible.

It was poor of TVNZ to allow this to happen as well – they accept the BSA decision and will broadcast an apology this week.

BSA Summary

During an item on Seven Sharp, broadcast on 23 August 2017 during the election period, the presenters discussed TVNZ’s ‘Vote Compass’, a tool available to assist the New Zealand public to make voting decisions. In response to comments by presenter Toni Street about the usefulness of the tool, presenter Mike Hosking said, ‘…so is the fact that you can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate, so what are you going to do now? I’m joking.’

The following evening, Mr Hoskingattempted to clarify his comment by saying, ‘Now, the fact that anyone can vote for [the Māori Party] as a list party I automatically assumed we all knew given we have been doing this for 20 years…’

The Authority upheld a complaint that Mr Hosking’s comments were inaccurate, finding that Mr Hosking’s statement about who was eligible to vote for the Māori Party was a material point of fact that was inaccurate and misleading.

Further, his comments the following evening were confusing and insufficient to correct the inaccurate information for viewers.

The Authority acknowledged the high value of political expression during an election period, but found that the potential harm in this case – providing inaccurate information which had the potential to influence voters, despite the alleged clarification – outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

Upheld: Accuracy; Order: section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement.

Did the statement amount to a material point of fact?

…we have reached the view that Mr Hosking’s comment was presented as fact. We recognise that, as a presenter, Mr Hosking’s style and tendency to offer his opinions on a broad range of topics is well-known to viewers.

However, in this case, Mr Hosking’s comment in effect asserted that only those enrolled in a Māori electorate were able to vote for the Māori Party. This was a statement of fact capable of verification.

We also consider it was material in the context of the discussion about Vote Compass and the upcoming election, as it had the potential to influence viewers’ voting decisions.

We do not consider that TVNZ’s and Mr Hosking’s argument that this was a passing, ‘throwaway line’ or joke changed the nature of the statement as a factual assertion. Mr Hosking’s language (‘the fact that’) implied that this was an authoritative statement and we do not consider it was clear from the 23 August broadcast what Mr Hosking’s statement ‘I’m joking’, referred to.

We do not consider this, or Ms Street’s reaction, were sufficient to correct the inaccuracy or to reflect to viewers that Mr Hosking’s comment was not factual or meant to be taken seriously. This was particularly so in the context of an item that was seeking to promote the utility for voters of TVNZ’s Vote Compass election tool.

Was the statement inaccurate or misleading?

We therefore find that Mr Hosking’s comment was factually inaccurate and was likely to mislead viewers about whether they could vote for the Māori Party.

Did Mr Hosking’s comments the following evening correct the inaccuracy?

We consider that the clarification or explanation provided was flippant and too general to cure the inaccurate statement made the previous evening. Given the high public importance and the potential to influence voters, in circumstances where TVNZ accepted the comments were inaccurate, Mr Hoskingshould have made a clear, formal statement correcting his earlier inaccurate remark.

In order to clarify his previous comments, in our view, it was necessary for Mr Hosking to provide a clear explanation of the Māori roll, Māori seats and the rights of all voters to vote for the Māori Party when casting their party vote.

We consider Mr Hosking’s clarification was dismissive, in that he did not accept his statement was incorrect, instead suggesting it was the Māori Party who got ‘confused’, and voters should have known better than to be misled.


In light of the importance of free, frank and robust political speech during the election period, we are cautious to interfere unless a relatively high threshold is reached which justifies placing a limit on that speech. After careful consideration, however, we have found that the potential harm caused by this broadcast, in leaving viewers misinformed about their ability to vote for the Māori Party, outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

We consider that Mr Hosking’s statement during the 23 August 2017 broadcast was inaccurate and misleading, and that the clarification subsequently provided was confusing and insufficient to correct the inaccuracy.

This was an important issue, particularly during the election period, and had the potential to significantly affect voters’ understanding of the Māori roll and of New Zealand’s electoral system.

TVNZ has accepted the decision “and found no errors or misunderstandings by the Authority”.


Under section 13(1)(a) of the Act, the Authority orders Television New Zealand Ltd to broadcast a statement. The statement shall:

  • be broadcast at 7pm at the conclusion of 1 News
  • be broadcast on a date to be approved by the Authority, no later than Thursday 21 December 2017
  • contain a comprehensive summary of the upheld aspects of the Authority’s decision
  • be approved by the Authority prior to being broadcast.

RNZ: Hosking’s Māori party comments ‘inaccurate, misleading’

In a statement, TVNZ said it accepts the decision and will broadcast a statement this week.

“There was no intention to mislead viewers and Mike’s comments were presented as a throwaway line made in the context of a light-hearted exchange between the hosts.”

That’s an odd response given the BSA decision ruled against ‘throwaway line’:

We do not consider that TVNZ’s and Mr Hosking’s argument that this was a passing, ‘throwaway line’ or joke changed the nature of the statement as a factual assertion. Mr Hosking’s language (‘the fact that’) implied that this was an authoritative statement and we do not consider it was clear from the 23 August broadcast what Mr Hosking’s statement ‘I’m joking’, referred to. We do not consider this, or Ms Street’s reaction, were sufficient to correct the inaccuracy or to reflect to viewers that Mr Hosking’s comment was not factual or meant to be taken seriously. This was particularly so in the context of an item that was seeking to promote the utility for voters of TVNZ’s Vote Compass election tool.

And Hosking’s follow up comments were not throwaway, they were dismissive of his ignorance, instead blaming others.

Seven Sharp has finished for the year, and Hosking has quit the show, so may avoid fronting up and taking responsibility himself.

BSA decision: McCaughan and Television New Zealand Ltd – 2017-083 

Dr Lance O’Sullivan wants leadership of Maori Party

Prior to the election in September Northland doctor Lance O’Sullivan announced that he would stand for the Maori Party in 2020.

The Spinoff: Lance O’Sullivan explains why he is running for the Māori Party in 2020

When I profiled Dr Lance O’Sullivan last year he was one of the most eligible political bachelors on the market. Courted by the big dogs on both sides of the spectrum, he eventually endorsed the Māori Party, pissing off basically everyone on all sides including some in his support base.

“I think we, as Māori, also need to realise that compromise is a part of involvement in New Zealand politics,” he said at the time.

Now, a week out from Election 2017, he’s gone a step further than endorsement, announcing on Sunday afternoon his intention to run for parliament in 2020.

Quoting O’Sullivan:

“I believe that in the history of New Zealand politics and government, the 2020 election is an opportunity to enable MMP to work its best for New Zealand.

“What would it look like if we didn’t have red and blue, left and right, Labour and National, but instead we had a coalition of centrist parties that better reflects the multicoloured, multidimensional culture of New Zealand that we live in now? Because quite frankly the ideologies of the left and right are out of date. I think the time is right to disrupt things and the mechanisms are there to allow that to happen.

“From another point of view, I believe a political party with Māori values underpinning it, which has the interest of all New Zealanders at heart, could be a very, very exciting party. I believe that the skeleton and the framework and the scaffolding is there and I think the Māori Party has done really well to demonstrate over the last nine years why MMP could work. The Māori Party has and will almost certainly always be a very well-aligned party for me.”

The election ended badly for the party as they lost their only electorate seat and therefore their place in Parliament.

O’Sullivan responded: Dr Lance O’Sullivan’s prescription for Māori Party revival

Dr Lance O’Sullivan may just be the right man to come up with the correct prescription to get the Māori Party back into Parliament.

Despite Saturday’s result, he’s optimistic about the future of the Party. “I believe they will come out of this in better shape,” he promises.

The party, formed in 2004 on the back of Maori discontent over Labour’s handling of the foreshore and seabed, confounded pundits to hitch its waka to the National whale. With Te Ururoa Flavell losing his Waiariki seat, that party is now sunk from Parliament.

But O’Sullivan has a number of ideas to get the party back on its feet: firstly a focus on youth voters, secondly moving to expand the Māori Party’s appeal beyond its core Māori voter base.

On the second idea, he believes progress is already underway, citing Manakau East candidate Tuilagi Namulauulu Saipele Esera, of Samoan descent, and Botany candidate Wetex Kang, who is of Malay and Chinese descent.

“How do you support the expansion of that, underpinned by Māori values,” O’Sullivan asks.

He says it’s also time to think beyond National and Labour, right and left, and truly utilise the opportunities available under an MMP system. “Why aren’t we aspiring to be the first minority Government? Less left and right, a technicolour coat of Government.”

O’Sullivan says that for the country that first gave women the vote, we should think big.

“Why aren’t we taking another step? The pendulum always swings left and right, so how do parties like the Māori Party say it’s not left and right, it’s wanting to be there all the time.”

Earlier this week Tukoroirangi Morgan resigned as party president and called on the party leaders to resign. O’Sullivan has advanced his political ambitions.

Maori Television: O’Sullivan wants sole Māori Party leadership position

Dr Lance O’Sullivan says he will only take a leadership role within the Māori Party if it is a sole leadership role.

Coming on the heels of the resignation of President Tukoroirangi Morgan, the front runner to be the Maori Party’s next male leader, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, says that co-leadership isn’t the way to go.

“If I had an opportunity to have a leadership role, it would need to be in that sole leadership role.” says the former New Zealander of the Year.

The Māori Party has had co-leaders since its inception 13 years ago.  Many believed Lance O’Sullivan and Marama Fox would be the next co-leader pairing.

But the doctor isn’t wanting to share that responsibility.

“I’m not a fan of co-leadership, says O’Sullivan, “I think you need a single leader and a single message coming through that’s strong and inspiring.”

“The results of this election mean that the Māori Party in entering a new stage of its evolution really, and that requires a review of the structure. Is it currently fit for purpose?  Is it as nimble and agile as it could be and should be? My answer to that is probably not.”

Rebuilding the party is a big challenge. No party without an MP or ex-MP has succeeded in getting into Parliament under MMP.

O’Sullivan awards include:

  • 2013 Supreme Maori of the Year
  • 2014 New Zealander of the Year
  • 2014 Second most trusted New Zealander (Readers Digest)
  • 2015 Communicator of the Year

Maori Party in disarray

The Maori Party was devastated after failing to win and electorate and losing their seats in Parliament. They appear to be having difficulty dealing with it.

1 News: Tuku Morgan quits Maori Party, slams former MPs after failure to get back into Parliament

Tukoroirangi Morgan has resigned as President of the Maori Party – but on his way out he’s let loose at the party’s former MPs.

“The role and relationship between the Parliamentary wing and the national executive of the Party was at times dysfunctional and unacceptable,” he said.

Ah, Morgan headed the executive of the party.

He also called on the pair, who are co-leaders, to stand down “to allow fresh talent to step up and lead.”

Perhaps a change of party president will help, but there may be a lot of repair work to do.

Dr Lance O’Sullivan said the resignation had to happen.

“I think it’s a good idea.

“It’s clearly, this election was quite a failure. There needs to be change in order to not repeat the failures and move forward. It’s simple common sense.”

He reiterated that he would like to stand at the next election.

He would be a good and probably popular candidate, but the party will need more than that.

NZ Herald: Tuku Morgan quits Maori Party, calls for Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox to step down

In his newsletter, Morgan said a new generation of leaders was needed to carry the party forward.

“Both co-leaders Marama and Te Ururoa should stand down and allow fresh talent to step up and lead. This is not to diminish their record of achievement over the past years. Their contribution in securing major political gains for Maori is undeniable and is a source of immense pride for our Party.”

I thought that Marama Fox was an asset to the party.

In response to Morgan’s call, Fox said it was up to the Maori Party members whether she stayed in the job she had held since Dame Tariana Turia stood down in 2014.

“I’m keen to represent [them] if our people want me there.”

Fox was a strong performer last term.

Maori Party tangi

The Māori Party isn’t dead yet – they may or may not survive – but ‘funeral’ is a shortened version of tangihanga anyway.

Māori dictionary definition of tangi:

verb: to cry, mourn, weep, weep over

noun: sound, intonation, mourning, grief, sorrow, weeping, lament, salute, wave

There has been weeping and grieving over the electorate loss of Te Ururoa Flavell, the failure of Howie Tamati in his electorate, and therefore the exit from Parliament of both Flavell and Marama Fox.

I also lament what could be the end of the Māori Party. It will be difficult for them to come back from this, unless perhaps Labour get into Government this term and do another foreshore and seabed type betrayal of their strengthened Māori support.

Flavell was not flashy , but he was a hard working MP and Minister, dedicated to the Māori cause. He is a big loss.

Fox was a first term MP but she made a big impression. She had some controversial ideas, but she always argued her case with gusto and with passion. She had to be one of the better performing first termers. Sad also to see her go.

Māori voters have proven to be good tactical voters at times in the past, but I think they stuffed up this election, or may have, depending on the outcome of governing arrangements.

If Labour get to form the next government their increased number of Māori MPs may mean better Māori representation – or not. Labour has a history of not delivering.

It seems that a number of Māori voters were besotted with Jacinda Ardern, but Ardern has not shown a lot of connection with and empathy for Māori. She barely advocated on Māori issues in the election debates, she didn’t give them much attention in her campaigning. There was no sign of Māori at her election night speech.

Since then Ardern has said she will not agree to a referendum on the Māori seats in negotiations with NZ First. That’s a positive for Māori if she sticks to it, but what if that makes a coalition with NZ First impossible?

What if for any reason Labour doesn’t get to form the next Government?

Without the Māori Party there will be reduced Māori representation where it matters. It’s hard to even think of which National MP might be Minister of Māori Affairs, a role filled by Māori Party MPs over the last three terms.

NZ First might even negotiate a Māori seat referendum with National, the latter actually having the abolition of the Māori seats in their policy but left alone while they included the Māori Party in government.

If there is a general referendum on the Māori seats they may well end up being scrapped.

The Māori Party may not quite be ready for tangihanga, but Māori voters may end up doing some wailing and lamenting as a result of them dumping the party whose sole purpose was to promote Māori interests.

The tangi may have only just begun.

Two Maori seats appear to be safe

There had been reports that Te Ururoa Flavell was being run very close by Labour’s Tamati Coffey in Waiariki, but a Maori television/Reid Research poll suggests otherwise.

  • Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party) 60.1%
  • Tamati Coffey (Labour) 39.9%

It was a small sample size of 400 but that looks to be a comfortable lead. If Flavell wins this the Maori Party will be safely back into Parliament.

And Nanaia Mahuta is even more comfortable in Hauraki-Waikato:

  • Nanaia Mahuta (Labour) 78%
  • Rahui Papa (Maori Party) 22%

The Maori King’s backing of the Maori Party doesn’t seem to have made any difference there.

But both polls were had small sample sizes of 400 and were conducted from 11 July to 3 September, an unusually long polling period.

Both polls included party support but over such a period makes them of dubious value now.





Maori Party versus Labour

A key contest this election is between the Maori Party and Labour, especially between Labour’s Maori MPs.

It is not certain that the Maori Party will survive the election, but if they do there are reports that Labour’s Maori MPs won’t allow a coalition with them.

Te Ururoa Flavell appears to have a tight battle with Tamati Coffey in the Waiariki seat. If Flavell loses that puts his party at risk.

The Maori party has another lifeline – Howie Tamati has polled ahead of Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe in Te Tai Hauāuru, and if he wins the Maori party will also survive.

If either or both Flavel and Tamati win then the Maori Party survive. There also seems to be a reasonable chance of them getting a second MP, either Tamati if he wins, or Marama Fox off the list again. There’s an outside chance of three MPs.

But If the Maori Party survive they have two problems having an influence in government. With National slipping repeating the arrangements of the last two terms looks slim.

The Maori Party are probably a better fit with Labour, but they seem to have a problem there too.

Jon Stokes: Labour’s Maori MPs will not allow a coalition with Maori Party

The dramatic change in the political landscape means even greater importance around the battle for the Māori seats. The rise of Labour has come by and large at the expense of its likely coalition partners, most notably the Greens and NZ First. Until recently Labour required both parties, and some, to form a government. Now a Labour, Greens and Māori Party arrangement could also be an option.

However, while this works in theory, in reality, it is nonsense and won’t happen.

The Labour Māori caucus would not allow any deal with the Māori Party. Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell would likely expect to keep the Minister of Māori Development and Whanau Ora portfolios. This won’t happen under a Labour Māori caucus led by Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis.

It seems nonsensical to me that Labour’s Maori MPs would refuse a coalition with the Maori Party.

For one thing it could significantly reduce Labour’s coalition negotiating strength. On current polling they could feasibly form a government with Greens+Maori or alternately with NZ First, and theoretically with both NZ First and the Maori Party.

If there is no chance of the Maori Party being involved that means Labour may only have one option, NZ First, and that strengthens Winston’s hand significantly, and he wants an anti-Maori seat referendum.

While Jacinda Ardern has stepped up when she took over the Labour leadership Kelvin Davis seems to have taken to his new responsibilities far less smartly.

Will Ardern pull Davis and Jackson into line over dealing with the Maori Party? Or will Maori rivalries be one of the first threats to unity in the new government (presuming Labour leads it)?

Poll: Labour Maori MP trails

A Māori Television poll in the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate has the current Labour MP trailing significantly.

  • Howie Tamati (Maori Party) 52%
  • Adrian Rurawhe (Labour) 39%
  • Jack McDonald (Greens) 9.1%

2014 electorate results:

  • Adrian Ruawhe 8089 (41.34%)
  • Chris McKenzie 6,535 (33.40%)
  • Jack McDonald 3,004 (15.35%)
  • Jordan Winiata 1,940 (9.91%)

Tamati may be benefiting because Mana are not standing a candidate this year.

Māori without landline reason for low rating – Labour MP

Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe has blamed the lack of landline phones in Māori households for the reason why he’s trailing Māori Party’s Howie Tamati in Māori Television’s latest poll.

“The realities of polling in Maori electorates, 75 percent don’t have landlines. So they are never going to get polled,’ Rurawhe said. “I was behind in 2014 and picked up a whole 13 percentage points between the 2014 poll and election day.”

People without landlines could as easily affect other candidates.

If Tamati wins that makes current MP Marama Fox’s chances of returning to Parliament.

Fox is currently a list MP and is trailing in a poll in the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti  electorate:

  • Meka Whatira (Labour) 55%
  • Marama Fox (Maori Party) 39%
  • Dr Elizabeth Kerekere (Greens) 6%

See Fox chasing tough odds

Poll on party support compared to 2015 results in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti:

  • Labour 50.4% (47.38)
  • Maori 21.1% (12.19%)
  • NZ First 12.0% (11.25%)
  • Green 7.5% (10.28%)
  • National 5.9% (5.37%)

Poll on party support (compared to 2015 results) in Te Tai Hauāuru:

  • Labour 41.8% (42.23)
  • Maori 24% (17.64%)
  • National 11.2% (7.11%)
  • NZ First 11% (11.79%)
  • Green 9% (11.93%)
  • TOP 1.3%
  • Mana 1.3% (Internet Mana 6.82%)

In both of those Labour and NZ First support is holding, Maori party support has risen, Greens have slipped.

Appalling non-apology from Hosking, TVNZ

On Seven Sharp last night Mike Hosking upset the Māori Party with a comment on voting. He said to co-presenter Toni Street:

“You can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled on the Maori electorate”.

That appears to be incorrect, or at least misleading, because you can party vote for any party, including the Māori Party.

The Maori Party complained in a media statement:

Māori Party co-leaders
Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox
24 August, 2017

Ill-informed Hosking needs to learn the rules

Māori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox are questioning the ability of TVNZ presenter Mike Hosking to host any election debates after his major blunder on Seven Sharp last night.

Mr Flavell says he was disappointed by Mr Hosking’s ill-informed comments last night when the Seven Sharp host said people on the general roll can’t give their party vote to the Māori Party.

“He is just plain incompetent – pure and simple. How can Mr Hosking host a debate on the election when he clearly has no idea on an issue around the party vote?

“The Māori Party has been a registered political party since July 2004. You can vote ‘party vote Māori Party’ whether you are on the General or Māori Roll and anyone and everyone can give their party vote to the Māori Party,” says Ms Fox.

“How can it take more than 13 years for the media to understand you don’t have to be Māori to vote Māori Party? Those on the Māori roll get the extra bonus of being able to vote for the Māori Party in the electorate as well.

“The information Mr Hosking gave out last night was misleading and irresponsible. He should do his homework,” says Ms Fox.

“It’s important to give the public the correct information, keep the voters informed and having a person who is so ill-informed hosting the debates is amateur.”

Mr Flavell says the show’s producers have agreed to highlight the mistake and a correction will be aired tonight.

“But frankly the damage has been done. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. There will be some who watched last night’s show, who don’t watch it tonight,” Mr Flavell says.

TVNZ stated:

“We will make a clarification on tonight’s show to clear up any confusion. We advised the Māori Party that we would be setting the record straight on tonight’s show a couple of hours before they issued their media release.”

Tonight Hosking said at some stage through the ‘show’ (not at the start):

“Small clarification for you.

“Now last night in a throw-away line I appear to have confused the Māori Party around the rules of voting in MMP.

“What I was suggesting, what I was meaning, was that the Maori Party, as their representation stands, is an electorate party.

That’s incorrect. The Māori Party has one electorate MP (Flavell) and one list MP (Marama Fox).

“In other words they are only in Parliament because they won an electorate seat. Therefore what I said in referring to voting for them was to vote for them in a Maori electorate you had to be on the Māori roll, which is true.

“Now the fact that anyone can vote for them as a list party I automatically assumed we all knew, given we’ve been doing it for 20 years for goodness sake and it went without saying.

“So hopefully that clears all of that up.”

That’s an appalling non-clarification and non-apology. The only thing it clears up is how badly Hosking has handled it.

He is sort of correct, you can only give an electorate vote for the Māori Party in an electorate they are standing in, and they only stand candidates in Maori electorates. But he explained that very poorly.

And he hasn’t apologised at all for his misleading statement last night, and he hasn’t explained that anyone on any roll can party vote for the Māori Party.

Hosking has made things worse for himself and for TVNZ.

For this Hosking deserves to be dumped from leaders’ debates – at least from the small party leaders’ debate that the Maori party will participate in.

Maori versus Peters on referendum bottom line

I think NZ First have always had a policy to have a referendum on whether to retain the Maori seats in Parliament or not.

The only different yesterday was Winston Peters saying it was a non-negotiable policy this election. He repeated his party’s referendum policy but made it clear which outcome he wanted – scrapping the seats. The other outcome he no doubt wants is picking up some anti-Maori votes, an easy target against a minority.

Parliament has to balance the need to represent majority wishes with the need to protect minorities. Referendums are useful for some things but are a democratic risk when they attack a minority representation in Parliament.

RNZ:  Peter’s referendum call would sideline Māori – Fox

At his party’s annual convention in Auckland, Mr Peters said the Māori seats should go and promised a mid-term binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven seats. Voters would also decide whether to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament to 100.

“My strategy is to tell everyone out there that you will not be talking to New Zealand First unless you want a referendum on both those issues – mid-term after this election.”

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox (in Parliament through the overall party vote)…

…said the seats could go only when disparity was removed for Māori in this country.

“We have the highest … rates of youth suicide in the world. We have the highest rates of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for Māori women in the world.

“We have a shorter life expectancy – and so on and so on and so on, and Winston Peters is merely politicking for votes and trying to take us back to the good old days of colonisation where you stick Māori in the corner and don’t give them a voice.”

Labour Maori electorate MP Kelvin Davis…

…said it was probably smart politics on Mr Peters’ part to attack Māori and politicians in the two-pronged referendum.

“The majority love hearing that sort of stuff: ‘we’re all New Zealanders, we should all be the same’.

“Well, the reality is, tangata whenua have different views, different values and we should be the ones that decide whether those seats stay or go.”

Shane Jones agreed with this earlier this month:

That was also the view of new New Zealand First candidate for Whangārei, Shane Jones, when asked earlier this month on TV3’s The Hui whether Māori seats should stay or go.

He said Māori seats should continue to exist “as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them and want them to continue”.

I think that’s a fair position. As long as every vote is equal as it is under MMP then I don’t have a problem with whether we have Maori electorates or not – in fact if it gives Maori better representation that’s a good thing.

The rest of us should look at how to improve our own representation. Our best way of doing that is by tactical voting in general elections, not in voting away a minority’s preference for their own representation.

Little concedes Greens+NZ First required

Andrew Little has conceded that Labour will need both the Greens and NZ First to form a coalition.

So the election is shaping up to be National versus three parties – but don’t forget the Maori Party.

RNZ:  Little defends Labour’s record on helping Māori

Mr Little did not rule out the party as a coalition partner, and allowed that both Mr Jones and Winston Peters could be considered for ministerial positions under a Labour government.

“I think when you’re putting together a coalition government, obviously you’ve got your potential coalition partners.

“For us it is naturally the Greens, obviously New Zealand First as well.”

“There’s going to be bids put up and there’s going to be what is needed to have a strong stable government pulled it together, and that would almost certainly involve MPs from each of those parties in a Cabinet.

“Quite what the detail of that is, how that looks, would be a matter for any discussions after the election.”

While Little said “For us it is naturally the Greens, obviously New Zealand First as well” that is a new concession, and is far from a natural position for Labour to be in.

A lot was said last year when Labour tied their election chances with the Greens through a Memorandum of Understanding.

The clear understanding from this was that Labour had conceded that they couldn’t compete on their own with National any more, after their support had slid from being the leading party in 2005 to trailing National by 22% in the 2014 election.

Labour’s share of election vote has gone down in every election this century. Recent polls have them stuck in the twenties with a real risk of a slump similar to last election.

Labour+Greens was not the game-changer that Labour hoped for. It seemed to reinforce their non-major party status and the polls failed to lift.

The Greens also haven’t lifted their support, and with their combined support in polls being around 40% the likelihood of a Labour+Green coalition looks low.

And it looks like it could be worse than just requiring both Greens and NZ First to form a government.

Labour are at real risk of not having a majority in a Labour+Greens+NZ First arrangement.

Both Greens and NZ First are looking likely to get 10-15% of the vote. If Labour get something 25% like last election (a distinct possibility and it could go lower) and both Greens and NZ First got more than 12.5% each the Green+NZ First vote could easily be higher than Labour’s.

That means it’s quite possible Labour could have less than half the say in a coalition, less than half the say on policies and less than half the ministers in Cabinet (if NZ First doesn’t go with National).

With both Winston Peters and Shane Jones having histories of disdain for the Greens their combined vote may not be strong against Labour’s, but it Little’s hope that “there’s going to be what is needed to have a strong stable government pulled it together” – Greens and NZ First – looks a long shot.

The choices this election look to be:

  • National+NZ First with National having about 3 times the vote of NZ First
  • Labour+Greens+NZ First with no party having a majority
  • Labour+Greens+NZ First with Labour having a small majority

The dynamics of a Labour led coalition will depend not just on whether Labour gets a majority or not, but also which of Greens and NZ First is the larger partner.

Greens are currently polling better but their support tends to fall off in campaigns, while NZ First support has tended to surge.

Voters will be considering whether it is time to dump National after three terms, but also have to wonder what a Labour+Green+NZ First alternative would look like, and try to guess what sort of power balance and stability a tri-party coalition might have.

Don’t forget the Maori Party.

If voters are reluctant to ditch National for fear of the alternative the National vote may hold up in the mid forties.

If the Maori Party are successful in their head to head battle with Labour over Maori seats and get a couple more seats that could make things very interesting.

(Little) said Labour’s Māori representation was going from strength to strength and, after the election, Labour would have the largest representation of Māori of any party in the history of New Zealand.

“If you look at the track record of the Māori Party, they’ve hitched their wagon to the National Party government for the last nine years, actually things have got worse for Māori.

Little has made it clear that Labour don’t want the Maori Party in their coalition considerations.

National have shown a consistent willingness to work with the Maori Party, and it is feasible they could have a choice between NZ First and the Maori Party to form the next government, and possibly also ACT+Dunne as another option.

In comparison Labour seems to only be considering a Labour+Green+NZ First coalition. With barely a majority or a minority in that mix that potentially puts them in a very weak bargaining position.

Labour risk becoming political lame ducks, and if voters get this perception before voting it could turn out badly.