Māori Party on a knife's edge of returning to Parliament

Source: 1News

The Māori Party is on a knife’s edge of making it back into Parliament with votes still being counted in the Waiariki electorate.

Labour candidate Tamati Coffey - who won the seat at the last election - is trailing behind Māori Party candidate Rawiri Waititi by 400 votes.

“It's really close and for that reason I'm not quite ready to concede on this just yet,” Coffey said.

Waititi called the results so far “simple arithmetic” and Waiariki is “very good at math".

“It was a two for one deal meant that there were more Māori in Parliament. I'm just really sad that I couldn't take the other seven with me.”

The special votes are continuing to be counted.

Waititi said he’s “feeling elated” about the results.

“We went up against the red tidal wave and our waka is the only one that's kind of breached that whitewash - or the redwash,” he said.

The party was sent into electoral exile after Waiariki voted against Te Ururoa Flavell in 2017.

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa Packer said it’s unlikely she will join Waititi through the extra party votes, however.

“We need to now wrap around as a caucus get together, work out what support we need to put in place for Rawiri,” she said.

“We've got a lot of work to do now.”

Co-leader John Tamihere is hoping for a new direction with Labour.

“The opportunity for the Labour Party is to demonstrate what our people want which is a Labour-Māori coalition,” Tamihere said.

Labour’s Māori MPs have the lion’s share of the Māori vote, winning six of the seven Māori seats outright.

Labour's Peeni Henare wants it to be rewarded, saying the party has “made it clear our people are important in this”.

“We did it with the Māori seats and now we should be getting those results,” he said.

It includes Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis being named Deputy Prime Minister, which has already been raised by Jacinda Ardern.

Waititi said they will continue to build the party over the next three years.