Election 2017 could be decided by the Maori seats, Alex Tarrant writes; While National is clearly looking to boost the Maori Party as its preferred partner over Peters, it's the Maori/Mana alliance that could have the biggest impact

Election 2017 could be decided by the Maori seats, Alex Tarrant writes; While National is clearly looking to boost the Maori Party as its preferred partner over Peters, it's the Maori/Mana alliance that could have the biggest impact

By Alex Tarrant

Affordable Auckland housing, controls on genetic modification, and a focus on regional economic development.

That could read as the three top lines of a Labour-Greens-New Zealand First government priority list.

But it currently represents how National and the Maori Party are positioning themselves to be coalition partners again after the 23 September election.

This column covers two angles along one theme. The first is how National and the Maori Party are looking to keep Winston Peters out of government. The second is how the Labour Maori caucus’ decision not to stand on their party’s list could see one of its strongest MPs left out in the cold as he watches Hone Harawira take his seat at a Labour-led Cabinet table.

Last Sunday we looked at how NZF’s Winston Peters looks set to be Kingmaker after 23 September.

But another scenario should be kept in mind. The now familiar looking National-Maori-ACT-United Future coalition.

Bill English’s get out of (Winston) jail free card could depend on how well the Maori Party can utilise its agreement with Hone Harawira’s Mana Party to try and trump Labour in the Maori seats.

The flip-side is that Labour’s chances of leading a government could rest on the performance of its Maori caucus.

National has made no secret of its cosying up to the Maori Party ahead of the election. While ACT has its three strikes, the Maori Party has three wins.

The Resource Management Act was passed with support from the Maori Party after compromises were made by National on genetic modification and Iwi consultation proposals.

Another piece of legislation that will be passed before the current Parliamentary term is out is the Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill. This will be touted as a huge win for the Maori Party on regional economic development.

And there for all to see this week was a patsy question from Marama Fox to Nick Smith during Parliament’s Question Time, on the Point England Development legislation.

Being able to attack Labour for its U-turn on the development, while accusing them of favouring grazing cattle over developing affordable housing was a chance the National/Maori brains trust was not going to miss.

Three wins. No doubt there will be more over the next few months.

Labour has ripped into the relationship between National and the Maori Party – for the most recent example see Meka Whaitiri's General Debate speech on Wednesday.

And for those who missed it, Labour’s current Maori MPs laid down a challenge to the Maori Party last month by saying they had requested to be left off the party’s election list (watch the press conference in the video above).

Their only way back into Parliament will be via the Maori seats. If they lose, they’re out. Some of Labour’s most experienced (current) Maori representatives may be gone.

Their move was in response to the Maori Party’s agreement with Mana designed to allow Harawira to be elected in Te Tai Tokerau, while giving Maori Party MPs a free run at the other six Maori seats. It also followed the Maori King’s endorsement of the Maori Party – a call that could have a huge impact for its party vote.

Now, I’m going to put my neck out there by relying on some polling numbers. And I’m going to run some scenarios that may never come to pass because a butterfly in India flapped its wings.

But here goes.

Interest.co.nz runs the Curia poll of public polls on our site, so I’m going to use these figures. I’m going to assume David Seymour and Peter Dunne are returned in Epsom and Ohariu. I’m going to assume they would agree again to a coalition with National and the Maori Party.

On current polling, and with the current Maori seats being held by their incumbents, this is what Parliament could look like *:

National/Maori/ACT/UF would have 61 seats of a 122-seat Parliament. Labour/Greens/NZF would have the other 61.

But changes are afoot. The Maori/Mana alliance is designed to allow Hone Harawira a shot at beating Labour’s Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau. It is also set to give most of Labour’s other Maori MPs a run for their money in the other six seats.

Based on the combined Maori/Mana votes in 2014, the two extra seats the Maori Party has a chance in are Te Tai Hauauru and Tamaki Makaurau.

Let’s leave Harawira to one side for now and let Kelvin Davis hold it (you’ll see why soon) and show what would happen if the Maori Party nicks those two seats from Labour:

Labour would have the same number of seats in Parliament based on its party vote. So would the Maori Party. We’re still tied at 61-all.

Throw Harawira into the mix. He wins Te Tai Tokerau from Labour. From Bill English’s point of view – if he doesn’t want to have to go with Peters - the Maori Party would require five seats (winning four off Labour and holding one). This would give the current government 53 seats in a 125-seat Parliament:

I’m sure English and the Maori Party would love that. But based on current numbers it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

What could? The central scenario of the Maori/Mana alliance based on combined 2014 electorate vote results sees Harawira win, and the Maori Party winning those two extra seats – ie Labour loses three:

National/Maori/ACT/UF again would hold 61 seats. But this time it would be in a 123-seat Parliament.

A Labour/Greens/NZF/Mana coalition could hold power. They would get an extra seat from Harawira winning while holding their overall number of seats as Davis is replaced by a list MP due to Labour’s party vote.

It sounds odd, but the Maori Party’s agreement with Mana could work against National’s chance of forming a government without Peters after the election. It would give Andrew Little a sniff at forming a government.

The cost would be Labour losing one of its strongest MPs.

* For the National/Labour electorate seat wins, I have divided the remaining seats not allocated to NZF, ACT and UF as 60/40 between the two major parties as this is their respective share of their combined vote. I’ve given Northland to NZF, Epsom to ACT and Ohariu to UF.

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Sounds like an episode of Air Crash Disaster.

Without getting into preference for any Party, I believe the more Parties needed to form a government, the less will be achieved


This is bold , because National essentially govern alone, and yet accomplished almost nothing.



National have accomplished one thing quite remarkable: they've completely devastated the home ownership chances of generations of young Kiwis growing up in Auckland.

Rick - amazing how some many Govts all around the world decided to do that simultaneously to their people and housing markets. However, some people would say that to bail out existing home owners and businesses around the world with debt that wouldn't have survived the GFC, world central bank took global interests rates to all time ever historic low levels - the downside to that ? Ultra low interest rates for savers/investors to try to live off....big moves into property investing....assets prices including houses went through the roof to ultra unaffordable levels..... everywhere, and now even in the countries that took a hit to housing markets in the GFC

Some would say it will take a decade furtehr to recover that position, but I agree with your sentiment that its all the Govts fault, Govts and central bankers should not have acted in 2008-16, they should have let a multitude of home owners lose their homes, and their jobs with it as businesses fell over due to the high interest rates.

I agree. The young should really be the ones to bear the burden.

The bailout of those banks that failed, is subsidized risk.

So the bank can't lose. In real capitalism those banks, would have failed, and the shareholders, and bankers would have lost there fortunes. This would have served as a deterrent to future banks wanting to over-leverage the way they did.

The fact that 'all time ever historic low' interest rates haven't caused any inflation yet simply goes to show. That the stimulus didn't work, but rather the economy is now responding in spite of central bank policies.

Banks ...like your average mid-morning caller to Leighton Smith: Capitalist on tax day, socialist on pension day.

So I note that none of that argues that the NZ government has not devastated the home ownership chances of generations of NZers.

But, why look at only a small subset of policy?

Past governments worked hard to make home ownership a reality in NZ, and boomers got the benefit of those policies from preceding governments.

This government unfortunately has done nothing to address crazy demand side factors - preferring only policies that enhance the investments of those born at the right time - and precious little to improve supply side factors. And for example, both quantitative easy and measures to discourage investment in NZ housing could have been implemented concurrently, couldn't they? They're by no means mutually exclusive.

At least we're in agreement that the government has indeed devastated the home ownership chances of generations of Kiwis. What an accomplishment!

RickStrauss what about this news article today in Stuff?


>" a deposit on a $260,000 former state home in Awapuni."

Sure. Did I need to mention Auckland, with Wellington rising fast?

Or is the suggestion for young Kiwis who grew up in Auckland to cede Auckland to global investors and move out and find somewhere else to live? "It may have been their's but it's not any longer"?


Blind speculation. Nobody knows how it will play out.

What we do know is that kiwis are getting more and more angry about out of control immigration and housing costs.

Can National see the writing on the wall?

And Labour have now come out with a policy to cut immigration. If the electorate swallows their pitch on fiscal responsibility, it may take only a few of these secondary issues to tip the balance their way.

I think I will vote for them.
Their housing policy now looks balanced, comprehensive and holistic, and sensibly they are proposing to look at immigration without getting too reactive

I am thinking the same thing, never voted for them before. I have been hugely disappointed by National.

Me too, though still undecided. If you'd told me ten years ago (as a National supporter) that I'd consider voting for Labour I'd have chuckled and shaken my head. But National have just done too bad a job with regard to the young and upcoming generations of Kiwis.

Deputy Labour leader and Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern said no-one could deny the role immigration has played for New Zealand's economy and diversity, but it was time for a discussion about whether Auckland could offer the "kiwi life" to new migrants.

I hope that is recognition that the Kiwi life is under threat (none of this "superdiversity BS)


They are not listening

With 120 MP's in parliament do none of them ever spend time in their electorates, at their electoral offices, talking to their constituents?

Doesn't seem like it
The entire Nat team are rusted on to the "supply side" of housing and mesmerised by Dr Nick Smith

Nick Smith mesmerising?

When you see Nicky Kaye lambasting Jacinda Ardern for letting down the young generations on the biggest issue facing them (superannuation, apparently), you really have to wonder, don't you?

Where was Nicky Kaye when her National leaders spent the last nine years denying any housing crisis exists, the real biggest issue facing young Kiwis? Only noticeable by her complete absence.

Busy toeing the party line - there is nothing needing to be done

apart from housing immigration will be the second big issue and we now have a clear choice between two sides.
these two issues are both linked so those that want change have a clear choice to vote for it

labour finally talking about cutting immigration, no figure yet so on one side we have
labour cut to ?
greens cut to 1% of population
nz first 10000Per year
national and ACT no cuts

maori /mana are split honi wants cut maori party will side with national
peter dunne will back whoever makes him a minister

my preferences I want a yearly figure set, which is filled by returning kiwis first then the most wanted, once full wait for the next year, my figure 25K with a 10% buffer. to be set at election date for three years or until next election.
every party names their number so we know what we are voting for

So you want to limit immigration to 25'000 pa ?


Zero Immigration

Until infrastructure can cope with natural population growth, immigration should be closed off altogether - strangely enough that is not a new proposal - is has been floated here on a number of occasions from about 5 years ago - but has never made its way up to the political elites

Infrastructure was inadequate 5 years ago - what do you think its like now, 5 years later

Headlines in NZ Herald yesterday - Auckland is broken (they've just discovered that now)

Unless you have the microphone and the lectern and the soapbox nobody hears

You haven't figured out who's having to build that infrastructural two otherguys ? Yup lets make sure it takes decades longer by restricting the work force that has to do it - an intelligent move

Round up all those chefs and restaurant managers, give them picks and shovels and sledgehammers, put them to work

Sorry I mistook your original comment as a serious one

So where are all these migrant workers who are working on infrastructure

They are probably all working as taxi drivers. They certainly are not working on infrastructure because the government has zipped the purse strings shut as it worked on more pressing image needs, such as generating a government surplus.

For each of the last 3 years NZ has been the recipient of 120,000 new inbound migrants less 50,000 outbound migrants. If you trawl through migrant statistics you wont find too many infrastructure engineers and construction workers - if any - let alone many

The following BBC broadcast examines the fallacy of importing lots and lots of migrants to do particular tasks. Unless there is a determined spillover effect from the inbound workers to train locals what happens is as the older ones retire you have to keep bringing in replacements and as the populace increases you have to keep bringing in even more. It is a self-perpetuating dilemma that compounds itself

Worth the listen - also talks about clean water, ground pollution etc etc - you won't hear them getting discussed here in NZ even though the issues are identical

Well having been down in Christchurch a few weeks ago, every building site seemed to be crawling with Filipinos for a start. And from what I understand from talking to guys in the construction industry, there would be considerably less construction going on if they weren't able to import workers for these projects. So I dare say there will be very few Christchurch people that will be happy to wait years longer for sufficient locals to undertake the recovery, just to satisfy those worried about clean water and ground pollution.

The same will apply to Auckland and to say that there isn't large numbers of immigrants working in construction is either a case of walking around with your eyes closed, or a political agenda.

How can it be that we are unable to build homes, roads, waste water systems and so on without imported workers? Why are we being fed this line that seems to vary between lack of skills and lack of basic workers (fruit pickers for example) depending on the circumstances.
Computerisation and mechanisation are freeing up people all the time, we have a massive services sector that's mostly fluff, we've stopped making most things here (clothing, footwear, manufactured goods generally) and there's a not so small army of folk sitting around doing little or nothing. What sort of an outfit have we become that this sort of nonsense is considered OK.

In the interests of clarity

I'm referring to PLT migrants who are professional engineers and highly skilled construction trades-people on Skilled Visas whereas your reference to "crawling with Filipinos" is probably referring to building site labourers here on Temporary Work Visas who are not counted in the 120,000 migrants - unless you did more than a kerbside survey

Also "every building site in Christchurch" is sweeping and vague and unlikely to meet the definition of infrastructure which is defined as Roads, Schools, Hospitals, Water, Sewerage, Power

See if you still believe that fallacy after taking a look at the immigration by occupation stats in the pdf here:

Sigh. The joys of MMP. Nearly, but not quite, as gridlocked as the US non-system. Trouble is a weak government can't make changes in a timely manner. National are only now able to make changes to the RMA, it took them 8 years. It will take 3 years after they are put in place to figure out if they are useful or not.

Under first past the post, each government could actually act, and the next government could sort out which of their actions had worked. I thought MMP would be an improvement, but instead it has given us stagnation.

I think National have done ok, not great, but ok. They just repeated Helen and Michael's immigration, housing and banking policy, with the same result.

Whoever gets in, we will get the same result, lots of words and no real action. Imagine the Greens and Winston working on policy together, should be entertaining...

Nothing wrong with MMP

Its the use of the numbers

When a minor party enters into an agreement with a major party to give power they are entering into a one-off arrangement - they have to have their entire wish list incorporated into the agreement - at the outset - right up front - no backing out - no variations - you had your chance - now get lost

The best power play is for all the minor parties to sit on the cross-benches and vote on and provide support on each and every issue separately - it is also goes by the names of (a) a minority government and (b) a hung parliament - so what - call it what you like - it works

That way, as circumstances change, they can exercise their power according to the current circumstances

Look, I like MMP, but it favours discussion and consensus over action. First past the post lends itself to action, whether the other parties like it or not. So new things get tried out. Those that fail get discarded and those that work get kept. It's more experimental rather than theoretical.

You can still have a hung parliament with First Past the Post - if enough minor party MP's

... I love that term " hung parliament " .... it conjures up images in one's mind's eye of the villagers on a rampage ... heading towards the house of power with lighted torches , pitchforks , and a supply of rope twined into nooses ...

Ah ... tie a yellow politician up from the olde oak tree ...

And here was me thinking you were going to give us a mental picture of a well hung parliament

Quite so, although you will tend to get fewer small parties with FPP and miss out on some alternative thinking and input; the Greens strong environmental position for example.
By way of example; I am very concerned with the state of our inshore fisheries and the effect of depletion on marine mammals, seabirds and the marine ecosystem in general. From media releases and my own correspondence with MPI and the minister (Nathan Guy) it appears the current lot couldn't care less. Their recent comments concerning the highly endangered Hectors Dolphin are typical but the destruction and collapse of numerous species needs to be more widely known. It would appear that the collusion between the big fisheries players and the Ministry of Primary Industries (AKA The Ministry of Extinction) is complete.
That's why we need the likes of the Greens to hold these dodgy buggers to account, I fully believe they won't stop until it's too late otherwise.

FPP also lends itself to gerrymandering and in "safe" seats other parties not being prepared to put up strong candidates guaranteed to lose, thus pretty much giving those voters zero choice. Thanks but no thanks, we wanted rid of FPP and we got rid.

the main problem with our MMP is that it is not proportional. After the last vote to look at improving the system, none of the recommendations from the report were taken. The 5% threshold is a good example of gearing elections away from changing the bigger parties. Hence the benign dictatorship we live in, democracy is a joke here with all referenda ignored by both sides of government. Except the flag of course, can't forget that important referendum...

National are only now able to make changes to the RMA, it took them 8 years.

Wrong, this is the third RMA Amendment Act under National - previously we had RMAA 2009 and RMAA 2013;


In other words, this is their third go in a series of goes. Every one of them creating more work, more complexity and more changes that councils and their planners have to implement to a piece of legislation past its use by date.

National don't have the intellectual grunt to implement real legislative reform. They are tweekers - and in most cases it seems, tweekers without a clue.

If there was a role reversal , and it was Paula Benefit running the Gnats , with Wild Bill as her deputy and mentor .... and similarly at NZ Labour ... if it was Jacinda Ardern being assisted by her second in charge little Andrew ... then I'd be very interested in the forth coming election ...

... and I'd have a positive glow that whoever wins will be a younger person with a progressive agenda , with a focus on business and innovation , with leading NZ Inc boldly ...

But ... oh dearie me ... but with Wild Bill and little Andrew as the major two contenders for the throne of Queen Bee in the Hive ... I am deeply saddened by their conservatism ; by their stodgy old thinking , by their lack of derring-doo and abilitiy to be creative , and to take a risk ...

... same old , same old , in Godzone .... .... SIGH !

Little wont be the Labour leader come election time. Just look at his court case. He is in it up to his nose, it just depends how bad the damages will be.

It's no coincidence that a few weeks before the case Labour dump Annette and moved Jacinda to No 2. Then placed Ardern in Mt Albert rather than Little.

Little will step down after losing the case, Labour will move Ardern to Leader and bring in a new No 2.

How that pans out come election day will be interesting - Personally I think Ardern is a waste of space. She is everything a "Pale, stale, male" represents - No experience, no real accomplishments, and no leadership.

Yes Little does look like a lame duck leader however to replace him they will need to run the "Labours Got Talent" contest. I'm not sure they will have time between now and Sept and will the unions vote for Ardern?


Do what Kuwait does with migration. One person out, one person in. 0 migration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not sure we should treat our migrant labour like Kuwait does, though.

Very smart they are in Kuwait. Got a population target. Work to it.

The only target the NP have is to double house prices every seven years

To Sum Up - Comments so far

Set an Immigration target - say 10,000

Returning Kiwis are allocated first
New Migrant applications limited to the remainder
If 11,000 kiwis return then no allocation available for others

Do as Doha does - 1 out - 1 in