Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maori Party aims for 18 seats

Stuff, TV3, TVNZ

The Maori Party plans to have 18 seats in Parliament by 2017, which will include all the Maori seats, its president told a group of Maori Party supporters today.

About 200 leaders and supporters attended the Maori Party's annual general meeting in Auckland today.

Leaders, members and MPs discussed the party's role in Parliament to date and its future plans.

Maori Party president Professor Whatarangi Winata said the party had been active in Parliament to date and had delivered 180 speeches since the beginning of the term.

The party wanted to increase its membership to have more influence in legislation, but co-leader Tariana Turia said for this to be done, more people needed to "cough up" more funds, particually those who were "well heeled".

She said she was disappointed about the recent Rugby World Cup bids but was otherwise pleased with how the Maori Party was working with National.

She said she expected the party to be able to see out its term with National and had a good relationship with Prime Minister John Key and his party.

"We do have a respectful relationship (but) we don't have to agree with one another," she said.

"The most important thing is the Maori Party is sitting at the same table as whoever is in Government."

The leaders discussed the climate change and the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), and while Mrs Turia said she was personally opposed to the ETS, because it would effect forestry, fishing and farming, three areas essential to the Maori economy, the Maori Party supported the bill because that was what their supporters wanted.