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Māori Party to be included in TVNZ's multi-party election debate

The Māori Party's request for inclusion in TVNZ's upcoming minor-party election debate has been accepted. 

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Co-leader John Tamihere challenged TVNZ over its policy to only include parties polling above three per cent. Source: 1 NEWS

It didn't originally qualify under TVNZ criteria for the debate, which included passing a three per cent polling threshold or having the party's leader in Parliament.

But, as the election date has moved to 17 October, TVNZ has had more time to consider its multi-party debate criteria.

It will be held on Thursday October 8.

TVNZ says it accepts the Māori Party’s concern that the current criteria does not adequately consider parties who are only contending Māori electorate seats.

It also says it accepts success in Māori electorate seats impacts the make-up of parliament, and viewers need to be aware of parties and politicians who may have a viable path to parliament by winning these seats.

Co-leader John Tamihere says he is pleased with the decision.

Māori Party co-leaders John Tamihere and Debbie-Ngarewa Packer. Source: Te wananga o Aotearoa

“It is pleasing that the leadership at TVNZ have finally awoken to the fact that Māori have separate and distinctive constitutional rights in this country. The Māori party is grateful that common sense has prevailed and we are now included."

The Māori Party has been pushing for inclusion since the first list of debates was announced ahead of the initial election.

Tamihere had earlier said that under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and the New Zealand Human Rights Act they had "a right to the freedom of expression of our voice by bringing a Māori voice to the political table".

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TVNZ’s multi party criteria will be broadened to acknowledge viable contenders for electoral seats. Given TVNZ does not poll in Māori electorates, or a number of other electorates, previous parliamentary representation will be used to demonstrate a strong possibility of future seat success.

The parties that currently qualify under the criteria and who are invited to 1 NEWS’ multi party debate are Labour, National, NZ First, The Green Party, Act, Advance New Zealand and now the Māori Party.

However, the decision has not satisfied everyone, with TOP aggrieved that they are still excluded.

Their leader Geoff Simmons says: “While I welcome the fact that the Māori Party will now be included in TVNZ’s multiparty leaders’ debate, it feels like TVNZ is making this up as they go along and TOP should absolutely be included too.

"As the largest broadcaster in the country, who is in these debates matters. New Zealand’s want choice this election and TVNZ is stifling that choice.

“TOP received more than twice the number of votes of the Māori Party in the 2017 general election and while it’s great to see them feature in TVNZ’s and Newshub’s election debates, we feel that it is only fair that, based on votes achieved in 2017, that TOP is there too."