Labour's Māori MPs are 'whipped' - Marama Fox

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox says she doesn't care who leads the next Government, if it's not her.

But her membership feels differently, she admitted on Monday morning.

"If I'm honest, our people are leaning left - they want a change," she told The AM Show. "That's what I feel when I go around the traps."

What's more important than whether the party backs Labour or National, she says, is having a seat at the table. National didn't need the Māori Party to govern when it took power in 2008, but invited them on board anyway, where they've remained.

Perhaps until now. Ms Fox said after the election, the party will go back to its members to choose a side, should the party hold the balance of power.

Asked how the Māori Party could go with Labour when it was Labour's controversial foreshore and seabed legislation that inspired Tariana Turia to break ranks and form the party, Ms Fox said just like with National, it's better they're in Government "to keep them honest".

"It's a waste of time having 12 Māori MPs in a Labour caucus when they're whipped, whipped into doing what they're told and not standing up for Māori rights and issues.

"If you're going to sit in a Māori seat which has been fought hard for by our ancestors, and you don't stand up for Māori rights, Māori issues, then get out of the seat because it's a waste of space."

While Ms Fox says Labour and National "have been the same for Māori", she appears frustrated with the Government's present direction.

"National would tell you that a rising tide lifts all boats, and we keep saying, not if your boat's full of holes."

If she could do away with both the major parties, she would.

"I'd prefer a Māori Party-led Government in this country where we respect the rights of all people, where we eliminate poverty, eliminate [the housing crisis], and make sure we have an economy that rises all boats."