The Maori Party's Election Chances

Over National party conference this was a frequent topic of discussion, and I came up with some interesting thoughts. The Maori Party have four current MPs, and I asked a number of people what their predictions were for the election.

The difficulty for campaigns in Maori seats is how wide-spread the electorates are, and how hard it is to target the 20,000 or so people that vote in each electorate. Good campaigns can make a difference, but a good incumbent is hard to beat without a mood swing against them or their party.

Tamaki Makaurau: Pita Sharples v Shane Jones v Willie Jackson

A three way battle that would normally be expected to go to Maori Party Leader Pita Sharples relatively easily. Mr Sharples personifies mana and has done more for the Maori on the Auckland Isthmus than many know about.

Unfortunately for him Willie Jackson is a high profile, effective campaigner who is backed by one of the best campaign managers on the left, Matt McCarten. Willie is unlikely to win, but he may split the vote and create a chance for Shane Jones to win.

Prediction: Narrow win to Sharples in his last term in government. May be revised to toss up if McCarten robs the tax payer again to run the kind of brilliant campaign he is capable of. His getting batshit mad Cathy Casey to beat Paul Goldsmith to the Supercity Council was a virtuoso performance of a confirmed yet flawed campaign genius.

Waiariki: Louis Te Kani v ?Te Ururoa Flavell

Te Ururoa Flavell has been a valuable addition to parliament, and a good MP in a very large electorate. He will be very hard to beat this election. Has a majority of close to 7000 with a turnout in 2008 of 19500. Labour?s turn out is not expected to be high, so it would take a massive swing

Prediction: ????Easy Hold for Flavell

Te Tai Hauauru: Soraya Peke-Mason v ?Tariana Turia

Mrs Turia has the mana to hold this seat for as long as she is physically able. Her work with Whanau Ora may not fit the views of all the leftists out there, but it is a major policy initiative that allows her to point to something other than the Sea Bed and Foreshore to say ?I have delivered for Maori?.

Prediction: ????Easy hold for Turia

Te Tai Tonga: Rino Tirikatene v Rahui Katene

The hardest of the seats for the Maori Party to hold. Rahui Katene has not been a stellar performer, and has the largest electorate in the country to campaign in, making trends and moods more important than hard work. Rino Tirikatene has the mana associated with the family name to be a formidable candidate, and has a positive track record to support his candidacy.

He will be a far more formidable candidate than Mahara Okeroa, who lost by 1049 votes in 2008.

Prediction: ????Labour win, perhaps the only seat Labour win from opponents on the night.

If this comes to pass, it leaves the Maori Party with three seats, but probably still two ministerial portfolios.

Anyone with an opinion on what will happen in Ikaroa Rawhiti should email the tip line, because lack of knowledge means predictions of a Maori Party win are very hard to make. iPredict has Labour at about 75c to win.

Later today there will be a post on the implications of this for John Key and National.