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'Really hard ask' for Māori Party to return to Parliament, political scientist says

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Dr Lara Greaves of the University of Auckland says once you’re out, it’s “really hard” to get back in. Source: Breakfast

The Māori Party’s fight to return to Parliament after missing out at the last election is “not very hopeful”, according to one politics expert.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and John Tamihere are at the party’s helm as co-leaders. The party was turfed from Parliament after Te Ururoa Flavell lost the seat of Waiariki to Labour's Tamati Coffey in 2017.

Dr Lara Greaves, politics and public policy lecturer at the University of Auckland told Breakfast that it's hard to get back into Parliament, once out and away from the “resources” it provides.

“They’ve been trying but it is really hard to get any kind of entry into Parliament again,” says Dr Greaves.

“Having presence in Parliament means you kind of have an agenda-setting ability so you have that ability as an MP whether it be through some kind of bill or some kind of media event that you get that constant attention and you’re in the public psyche.”

She says trying to get in from the outside of Parliament is all about bridging the gap and getting enough public and media attention.

“That’s a really hard ask and we haven’t seen anyone do that and come back except for Winston Peters of course.”

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She says it’s also hard to poll a Māori electorate.

"Māori electorate polls are notoriously bad and inaccurate and last election it looked like the Māori Party were going to get in but they didn’t.

“It’s a shame because we do need to ask Māori in these different electorates what they think but there’s just not really a good mechanism to do that.”

She says one independent Māori MP in Parliament could be that voice for Māori, the person on the inside to have access to all the necessary resources.

“But then who knows what would happen in that next election. So it’s not looking very good for the Māori Party unfortunately.”