There was good news for the Māori Party yesterday with the release of the Marae Digipoll showing strong support for the Party and their actions over the course of the current parliamentary term. The highlights from the poll are:
- 22.2% of Māori voters support the Māori Party;
- 27.7% of Māori voters enrolled on the Māori role support the Māori Party;
- 56% of respondents believe that the Māori Party have represented Māori well; and
- 54% of respondents support the Māori Party’s decision to vote for the Takutai Moana Act;
Conversely, Te Mana should be very worried about their poll results, with only 8.5% of Māori voters expressing support for Te Mana and the repeated attacks by Te Mana on the Māori Party and their support for the Takutai Moana Act and the National Government have failed to resonate with Māori voters. This is a very clear indication that very vocal minority support will not necessarily result in support from the wider electorate.
Te Mana even find themselves with less support than the National Party, not just amongst Māori but also with those enrolled on the Māori roll. As I have said many times before, Māori are not a homogeneous group and Te Mana appear to be making a tactical mistake in focussing on class warfare rather than on Tikanga Māori. The Marae Digipoll indicates that 40% of Māori support the centre-right pairing of National and the Māori Party. The success of Te Mana will, therefore, be determined by how well they can convert traditional Labour supporters to their cause.
Of course, the Party vote is only one part of the equation. Of greater importance to the Māori Party and Te Mana will be the number of electorate seats they hold come November 27. If the Māori Party can maintain their four seats then they will be in a very strong position to maintain their position around the Cabinet table for the next three years. On the other hand, a loss of one or two seats will require a dramatic overhaul of the Party and the injection of new candidates and new ideas. For Te Mana, the failure to pick up at least a second seat in Parliament would constitute a failure of monumental proportions. For all the talk, for all the rhetoric, it would be a big wake-up call for their high-profile supporters and candidates.
I look forward to hearing the reaction from the respective parties as the day unfolds. From the Māori Party, it will be a case of shouting the results from the rooftops. From Te Mana, expect to hear a lot of criticism of poll methodology. One thing that cannot be ignored is that strong support continues to exist for the Māori Party, and they will be pleased to know that the efforts and achievements of the past three years have been recognised and appreciated by a large proportion of the Māori population.