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John Tamihere says his daughter can't commit to voting for Māori Party

Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere knows he's up against it in the New Zealand election.

Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere. Source: Breakfast

His daughter, who is 19 and will be voting for the first time, can't even commit to vote for his party in the October 17 poll.

"I'm getting her candidate vote. And then she's going to bloody Jacinda, the mug!" Tamihere said, laughing.

"I can't get two (votes) out of my own daughter."

New Zealanders get two votes at the election - one for a candidate, in either a general or Māori electorate - and one for a party.

It's the all-important party vote that decides the election, as those tallies decide the Parliament's make-up.

And as other minor parties have complained, Ardern's Labour Party is blacking out the political sun.

"All the big issues are somewhat subverted by how well Jacinda has managed the Covid response," Tamihere continued.

"It sucks oxygen out of everyone's tent.

"It's a war-time election and they're very rare. Everyone, with herd mentality, is going (for) the Prime Minister."

The Māori Party has been a fixture of Kiwi politics since 2004 when a dispute over seabed ownership rights prompted a Labour minister to defect and set up the renegade force.

Since then, it has won a share of the seven Māori seats at each election, campaigning on indigenous rights.

From 2008, the party held ministries in an uneasy coalition with John Key's National-led government before crashing from Parliament as Ardern took power in 2017.

Labour currently holds all seven Māori electorates, and with Ardern enjoying increased popularity, the Māori Party has no obvious route back to Wellington's Beehive.

"We were on target to win three seats before, and along came Covid ... it changed the game," he said.

To get back, the Māori Party is campaigning on a combination of quality of life issues - housing and income support - and cultural change - renaming New Zealand as Aotearoa and forming a Māori Parliament.

"We're never giving up," he said.

"I think we're in for at least one or two seats. Our people are smart enough to split their votes."