State of the Parties: Maori Party report card

OPINION: Lloyd Burr has been following the Māori Party. Here's his report card.

(Co-)Leadership: B+

Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell are a solid team. Ms Fox is electric and is a proven crowd favourite. That is essential for a small party - you need to pull a crowd.

She is on the front line taking the hits and landing some herself - including swipes at National for good measure. This allows Mr Flavell to get on with the business of being Minister for Māori Development.

It is a good strategy and one that was lacking for the Māori Party when Mr Flavell was teamed up with Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples.

Ms Fox's growing profile and dominance in the co-leadership comes with a danger too - if she does not return to Parliament - the party is in serious trouble.

Policy: F

The good grades go out the window on this one - the Māori Party needs work, and needs to communicate clearly what it stands for.

Yes, it's been at the Government's table and has got some concessions on the Resource Management Act, some money for Māori Development project and managed to kind of salvage the botched Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

But the Māori Land Bill, Te Ture Whenua Māori was a major headache for the party. What are its other policies? What are the three main promises the Māori Party are making? What are its core principles?

It seems to be a hybrid Government yes-man and no-man at the same time, being thrown around the political continuum like driftwood during big surf at Ohope Beach.

Maori Party report card Newshub
Photo credit: Newshub.

Fresh face factor: A

Ms Fox can take all the credit here. She has been a workhorse at rejuvenating the party's image. She is everywhere, and doing a stellar job at boosting the party's profile.

She's energetic, she's cheeky, and she's likable. Her warmth and no-holds-barred approach takes the edge off Mr Flavell's somewhat monotonous demeanour.

If you want some salt-of-the-earth comments about something, Ms Fox is the one to go to. The party gets extra points for recruiting former Kiwis league star Howie Tamati to stand for the party in Te Tai Hauauru.

Vibe: A-

Just like a good strum of the guitar, the Māori Party has got the vibe. Who could forget Ms Fox and Mr Flavell belting out their cracker rendition of 'Santa Baby' at the close of Parliament.

Not only that but they have given us the 'NZ Game of Thrones' by sparking a real contest in the Māori seats, thanks to the cunningness of president Tukoroirangi Morgan.

This could upset 'kingmaker' Winston Peters. The vibe gets even better because the cold war with Hone Harawira has been neutralised and he's no longer a threat, and no longer splitting the non-Labour Māori vote.

Election Outlook: B

The battle for the seven Māori seats will be absolutely crucial to the outcome of this election. If National polls high, and the Māori Party do as well, it may box Mr Peters out of the kingmaker role.

With one current electorate seat, a boil over in one, two, or even three other seats would be an absolute political coup.

But on the other hand, everything is on the line for Marama Fox - she's a list MP and with our latest poll having them on 0.7 percent, she'd be turfed out of Parliament. She has to win her Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat to guarantee her survival.

The Māori Party's fate will be either great, or a complete failure.

Lloyd Burr is a Newshub political reporter.

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