Maori King Tuheitia backs Maori Party in controversial political comments




The Maori King has laid down a challenge this election, throwing his support firmly behind the Maori Party.

His comments at his annual coronation commemorations in Ngaruawahia have brought criticism.
Source: 1 NEWS

But King Tuheitia's comments at his annual coronation commemorations in Ngaruawahia have brought criticism from those who say he has no business getting involved in politics.

"I'd just like to acknowledge all of the candidates standing for the Maori Party. You have my blessing, my vote and once in Parliament you will have a huge hand in my life," he said in a rare ballot box endorsement from the Maori King. 

King Tuheitia outlined the Kingitanga movement's plan to fight all future general elections. 

He's backing Rahui Papa who's standing against Labour's Nanaia Mahuta, the King's own cousin, in Hauraki-Waikato.

"It's humbling, very, very humbling," Mr Papa said.

King Tuheitia is also defending his right to be directly involved in politics.

"I have chosen to put the Kingitanga front and centre," he said.

It's something his mother stayed away from, and not all his followers think it's appropriate. 

"Well sadly the Kingitanga hasn't positioned so overtly in politics for as long as I can remember," said Ms Mahuta, Labour MP for Hauraki-Waikato. 

Despite King Tuheitia backing for Mr Papa, Ms Mahuta will be extremely tough to unseat.

That's because at the last election she had a a 7500 majority - more than both the Mana and Maori Party candidates combined.

"I believe that Nanaia' got Hauraki-Waikato sewn up," said Kelvin Davis, Labour's deputy leader.

Today's declaration from King Tuheitai shows the Kingitanga movement is taking a long term view.

"We will make the General Election and the need to secure political influence a lifelong commitment," he said. 

The fight for Hauraki-Waikato is set to be a battle royal. 

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