Decision 17: Maori Party launches election campaign

The Māori Party has launched its election campaign by promising to stop the export of water by foreign-owned companies.

The party won't decide who it will support in Government until after the election.

And there were a few surprises when candidates gathered today in south Auckland.

Black Power made plenty of noise arriving - and were made to feel welcome - but said it was there just to listen and learn, not to endorse.

"The Māori Party, along with a few others, have sort of been with us and helped us along the way in a lot of programmes in the past - around education, health, all those sort of things," Puketi Timoti of Black Power said.

And it had plenty of tub-thumping policies. For the Māori Party, water is a taonga.

"We want to go immediately to a royal commission of inquiry into the water rights and interests and stop the export of water by foreign-owned companies," said Tukoroirangi Morgan, Māori Party President.

They also want a minister - or a ministry - specifically for Māori and Pasifika housing. Its task would be to end homelessness by 2020.

The party also wants a fund to buy back sites of national significance that fall into foreign hands.

"We will stop the sale of land to non-citizens of new Zealand," Mr Morgan said.

In Newshub's latest Reid poll, the Māori Party sat at 1.5 percent - potentially just enough to re-elect only co-leaders Marama Fox, and Te Ururoa Flavell, if he holds off Labour's challenge in Waiariki.

Mr Flavell says he's well ahead, but Labour's internal polling put Tamati Coffey just behind.

"I'm sorry, Labour, you guys might have a couple of new drivers on that bus but that's the same bus," Ms Fox said.

In past elections the Māori Party has ended up supporting National-led governments, but leaders insist this time round no decision has been made.

"We are growing, we feel the swing, we know that we can do it, and we no longer want to have our voice hampered," Ms Fox said.

The message from the Māori Party is clear - for far too long they say they've been driven around on the blue bus or the red bus, but now they're ready to drive their own bus.