Hone Harawira trying to get in Parliament on 'Labour's mana' - Kelvin Davis

  • 22/08/2017

An already fiery election season has well and truly kicked off, with Labour's deputy leader accusing the Mana party leader of trying to enter Parliament on "Labour's mana".

The accusations flew during the first televised leaders' debate, which took place on Māori Television on Tuesday night.

The debate saw The Opportunities Party's Gareth Morgan, Mana's Hone Harawira, Greens' James Shaw, Māori Party's co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell, and Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis attend.

The National Party was invited, but did not attend, while New Zealand First's Winston Peters refused to attend if Dr Morgan was attending.

It came after the results of the first Māori poll were released, showing those on the Māori roll would vote for Labour (46.5 percent) well ahead of either the Māori Party (17.5 percent) or Mana party (1.8 percent).

While discussing potential coalition partners, Mr Harawira pitched a 'two-for-one' deal in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate, where both Mana and Labour could take seats.

But Mr Davis - who took the seat from Mr Harawira in the 2014 election - wasn't impressed.

"It's hilarious really that the leader of the Mana party wants to come into Parliament on the mana of the Labour party," he said.

"That's what's hilarious - that he can't do it on his own, he has to ride in on our mana."

He said there are "no deals" and there hasn't been any conversations between Labour and Mana.

"You can't stand there and teka (lie) when you should be talking tika (truth)."

Dr Morgan also drew Mr Davis' ire, saying Māori seats should be "exclusively for parties that have the Māori kaupapa (interests) at their core".

"I don't agree with Labour or the Greens standing in the Māori seats," he said.

Mr Davis slammed him for "denigrating [his] whakapapa (ancestry)".

"You have no right to stand there and denigrate my whakapapa, and our Māori members of Parliament are kaupapa-driven."

When conversation turned to coalitions, the hot debate also saw Mr Flavell and Mr Harawira unwilling to commit to a single coalition deal, instead pointing out that while there may only be two or three seats between the bloc, parties will turn to them to form a Government when they're just a little bit short.

But Mr Flavell was willing to commit to one thing: he admitted he'd "struggle" to work with NZ First's Winston Peters.

"It's contrary to everything I hold about being a Māori Party leader," he said, referring particularly to Mr Peters' 'bottom line' for a referendum on abolishing Māori seats completely.

Meanwhile the love nest between Labour and Greens seemed to be slightly shaken, with Mr Davis initially refusing to say what parties they would look at for a coalition.

But he relented, saying the memorandum of understanding meant leader Jacinda Ardern's first call would go to the Greens.

"We are BFFs," Mr Shaw said afterwards.

The Māori Television debate was the first of the election season. Newshub's leaders debate will take place on September 4.