Harawira faces close contest in electorate: survey

Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says he will spend more time in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate and less time campaigning nationally after a poll at the weekend indicated he could face a close contest at home in next month's election.

He said he would concentrate his campaigning on three seats: his own, the Waiariki seat to be contested for Mana by lawyer Annette Sykes, and one other, yet to be decided.

He made his comments on Marae Investigates after a DigiPoll survey commissioned by the Sunday morning current affairs show indicated Labour could be ahead in the north.

The poll also showed less antipathy towards the Maori Party as a support partner of National than Mr Harawira's Mana Party has suggested and more support for National than Mana among all Maori voters.

And almost half of those polled would like to see list MP Shane Jones take over the Labour Party leadership from Phil Goff.

Almost 70 per cent accepted the Maori Party's position of compromising to join National in Government.

Over half disagreed with Mr Harawira's claims that the Maori Party was too old.

More than 1000 voters around the country were quizzed on their intentions for casting the party vote, but the electorate breakdowns are only indicative, because the sample size is so small.

Despite that, Mr Harawira said the poll showed he was "not working as hard as I should be in Te Tai Tokerau''.

"It means the issues on a national [basis] have to be put on the shelf and I go back home and do the work I'm noted for around the kura [schools], around the work trusts, around the beneficiaries.''

He polled 28.6 per cent for the electorate vote from a sample of 97 respondents and Labour polled 30.2 per cent. The Maori Party got 22.2 per cent support.

The close result is not out of the question given what happened in the June byelection.

Mr Harawira's resignation from the Maori Party to form Mana forced a byelection in which his 6308 majority in 2008 was trimmed to just 1117 by Labour's Kelvin Davis.

Other indicative results in the poll, again from small samples, had the Maori Party (sitting MP Pita Sharples) ahead of Labour (list MP Shane Jones) in Tamaki Makaurau; Labour (sitting MP Nanaia Mahuta) well ahead of Mana (Angeline Greensill) in Hauraki-Waikato; the Maori Party (sitting MP Tariana Turia) ahead of Labour (Soraya Peke-Mason) in Te Tai Hauauru; the Maori Party (sitting MP Te Ururoa Flavell) well ahead of Mana (Annette Sykes) in Waiariki; Labour (sitting MP Parekura Horomia) ahead of the Maori Party (Na Rongowhakaata) in Ikaroa Rawhiti; and Labour (Rino Tirikatene) ahead of the Maori Party (sitting MP Rahui Katene) in Te Tai Tonga.

The north could be too close to call between Mana and Labour, the Maori Party would keep three of its four seats and Labour would pick up Te Tai Tonga from the Maori Party.

Mrs Turia, the Maori Party co-leader, said: "The fact is that the Maori vote is quite volatile and I believe that for the first time in a very, very long time our people are starting to think more politically about where their alliances lie.''

For the electorate vote, DigiPoll named the party, not the candidate, because not all contenders were known at the time of polling.

The poll was of 1002 Maori voters, 655 of whom were on the Maori roll, and it was conducted between August 19 and September 20. The margin of error for the total sample is 3.1 percent and for the Maori roll sample 3.8 percent.

- Audrey Young of The New Zealand Herald

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