If the Māori Party can have cup of tea with 'racist' Don Brash, we can negotiate with 'Uncle Winston' - Willie Jackson

Labour's Māori campaign manager Willie Jackson is open to negotiating with Winston Peters, despite the latter wanting a referendum on the Māori seats.

Appearing on The Nation on Saturday alongside Green MP Marama Davidson, Mr Jackson told host Patrick Gower his party could work with Mr Peters if that's what it took to change the Government.

"We can work with Winston," he said. "He's worked well with Labour in the past. He's talked about this referendum - everything is negotiable. We'll see what the numbers bring us, but I don't think he's going to die over one particular thing - he's got a number of bottom lines."

Mr Peters worked with Labour under Helen Clark, serving as Foreign Minister between 2005 and 2008.

Mr Jackson emphasised his first obligation was to the Green Party however, and he hopes they will do well at next weekend's election.

"We've made that commitment. We are a block. We represent left-wing and a lot of Māori and working-class interests."

Mr Jackson explained that while working with the NZ First leader isn't ideal, it wouldn't be difficult either, offering an example of the Māori Party's relationship with Don Brash as proof.

"Look, the Māori Party went and had a cup of tea and breakfast with Don Brash, the day after Brash had just finished the most racist campaign in the history of New Zealand politics - so we can talk with Uncle Winston, not a problem."

Dr Brash has long argued for the abolition of the Māori seats, and has recently been the face of lobby group Hobson's Pledge, which opposes alleged favouritism for Māori.

Asked the same question of whether she would be open to working with Mr Peters, Ms Davidson referred to her party's past collaborations with the leader. 

"We have worked with Uncle Winston in the past," she said. "I was really happy that he supported our feed the kids Bill."

But on the referendum - the Greens have been clear.

"Already Māori have the agency to vote on the general or the Māori role, we already are able to make that decision. Our opposition to Winston Peters' policies [has been] clear and upfront - we won't put up with some of his attitudes and policies and approaches that pull on that populist racism stuff that we actually need to be resisting."

Both Ms Davidson and Mr Jackson said they are concentrating on getting as many party votes as possible so they don't need to consider anyone else.

Ms Davidson is open to a three-way coalition with the Māori Party.

"That's our preference for a truly progressive Government - for the Government that's going to help the Green Party get our priorities over the line." 

Newshub.

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