The Maori Party is reaching out to Pacific Island voters for the general election in September, through an agreement with the new One Pacific movement.
One Pacific and the Maori Party signed a kawenata, or sacred agreement, at Auckland's Waipuna Lodge yesterday.
MoU signing between One Pacific and the Maori Party. Photo/ Teleiai Edwin Puni.
One Pacific candidates will stand on the Maori Party ticket in nine electorate seats including Mangere and Manukau East in Auckland.
Movement co-founder and co-leader Ai'iloilo Dr Elise Puni says the movement remains separate from the Maori Party and is about bringing stronger Pacific representation to Parliament.
"You can only vote for what is in front of you at the time of election," he says. "A lot of our Pacific people wanted to see something like this but that option was not available."
Prominent member of the Tongan community, Manase Lua, says he will contest the Maungakiekie seat.
He says the Maori Party represents Pacific peoples better than Labour, the traditional home for Pacific voters.
"The Pacific community should be asking themselves, 'What has Labour done for us in the last nine years?'," he says. "Compare that with what the Maori Party has been able to achieve for Pacific."
Lua will be standing in the Maungakiekie electorate, which will be vacant with the departure of National's Peseta Sam Lotu-liga.
Lua says he knows it'll be hard work to take votes from more established political groups.
"We're not going in here with our eyes closed," he says. "We know that we're running in very strong Labour seats particularly in Auckland. We've got to convince our people of the benefits of working with the Maori Party."
One Pacific candidate, Manase Lua. Photo/ Manase Lua.
Lua says the Maori Party has showed great interest in Pacific peoples and affairs.
"Nothing is in concrete yet but the Maori Party have signalled that they will be looking at putting Pacific candidates in their top 10," he says. "That's a signal that they prioritise Pacific."
Dr Puni says the remaining eight candidates standing for One Pacific and the Maori Party will be announced shortly.