What's right for Māori is right for the country - Te Ururoa Flavell

Māori party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has returned to Parliament for the first time after the election saw his party kicked out.

He spoke at a Victoria University event, which he'd agreed to before the election not knowing it'd become an unofficial valedictory speech.

"I agreed before the election thinking oh sweet I'll just do what we normally do, but clearly that didn't happen...clearly things are a hell of a lot different and to be truthful it's a little bit difficult coming back," he said.

He said the Māori party was not finished as a movement, because there is and always will be work to be done. The movement was part of a history in Māori politics "and so we will always be around in one form or another."

Mr Flavell said during the election campaign party struggled to overcome the perception that it was only for Māori voters, and to defend Labour's claim that it was "the Māori branch of the National party".

"Still people believe that is for only Māori and only Māori can vote for our party," he said.

Mr Flavell said the party's response to the claim is "What's right for Māori is right for the country".

He felt that the media didn't cover their gains enough and were more focussed on "asking us what we thought of everyone else's stuff but our own".

Prior to the election, the party thought that Labour's struggles would benefit them - then Jacinda Ardern came along and the party gained traction.

On reflection, he felt that he hadn't spent enough time in his electorate and it "came back to bite me in the backside" when he lost his Waiariki seat to Labour's Tamati Coffey.

"I was a bit shattered, as we were all shattered because despite all of these gains and working our backsides off we got robbed," he said of the election result.

He said that what hurt most "was the loss of faith and belief in our party after twelve years of service".

"But we will be back, when our people believe again that they must have that strong independent voice to keep everyone else honest."