Maori voting switch will hurt Labour

National has a strong candidate in Mita Harris and Labour has Sio Su'a.

At the Otara flea market on Saturday, Labour had a big force of supporters out in the anticipation that Miss Clark would be attending. She did not, but Mr Robertson and Tamaki-Makaurau candidate and list MP Louisa Wall were prominent throughout the market.

On current polling, Ms Wall will not return to Parliament from Labour's list and she is unlikely to unseat Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, the Tamaki-Makaurau MP.

Dr Sharples said his message to Maori voters was that the Maori Party was "their party", formed after a protest hikoi marched on Parliament.

"This is their party and they should be investing in the whole party by giving us the two ticks. Don't give your party vote to the others, believe in the things that the Maori Party is doing. If they vote for us, then that is the message we can take to National and Labour after the election. The Maori Party will be in a position of authority."

Dr Sharples' campaign manager, Chris Tooley, said 60% of Dr Sharples' vote came from Otara, Mangere and Manurewa. Although the party received votes in the centre of Auckland, the main support was on the edges.

Dr Tooley said the results in Te Tai Tonga, Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Hauraki-Waikato could come down to margins of around 1000 votes, which would prompt recounts.

"We don't expect to know the results on election night."

Ikaroa-Rawhiti is held by Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia and Hauraki-Waikato by Customs Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Both are high enough on Labour's list to return to Parliament.

Asked if the Maori Party was getting any pressure from voters to support either Labour or National in forming a government after the election, Dr Tooley said people seemed to be favouring Labour, but the party was keeping its options open.

The Polynesian vote was harder to define during interviews with candidates and supporters at five South Auckland markets. However, there was a general trend against Labour, the traditional home for Polynesian voters.