Key: Hone Harawira won't beat Kelvin Davis

Hone Harawira (file)
Hone Harawira (file)

Prime Minister John Key's not sweating Hone Harawira's political comeback, saying he'll struggle to win Te Tai Tokerau back from Labour's Kelvin Davis.

Mr Harawira announced at the weekend he's getting the Mana band back together, after 2014's ill-fated dalliance with the Kim Dotcom-backed Internet Party.

"No offense to the 25 Maori in Parliament, but they are hardly noticeable," he told Maori current affairs show The Hui. "Maoridom needs a fighter who is a fighter, not just a backing vocalist."

In his way however is Mr Davis, who ousted Mr Harawira and Mana from Parliament in 2014. It was third-time lucky for the rising Labour MP, having twice lost to Mr Harawira before.

"Incumbency helps you," Mr Key told Paul Henry on Monday morning. "That's not to say Hone couldn't win and Kelvin couldn't lose, but it's easier for Kelvin as the incumbent."

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says Mr Davis is hardly a backing vocalist.

"It is pretty hard to unseat an incumbent MP, and Kelvin Davis has managed to get a bit of the spotlight, so there's proof there that what Hone said about them going largely unnoticed is incorrect," she told Newshub.

Mr Harawira denies his he's seeking utu.

I'm not going back to win it back off him; I'm going in it to win the seat back for Mana because the people of Tai Tokerau deserve Mana back in the House."

Mr Key, whom Mr Harawira once called a "smiling snake", says his old enemy could be making a mistake.

"People when they leave, they often want to come back -- usually in error, but nevertheless they want to do that," he says. "Parliament's littered with people who go, then leave and try and come back. Or do come back, generally not successfully."

Mr Key suspects Mr Harawira is looking to atone for the Internet Mana fiasco. The combined parties only got 1.2 percent of the vote in 2014, and without Te Tai Tokerau, Mana was eliminated from Parliament.

"He's obviously had the big divorce with Kim Dotcom, so maybe he's thinking it's a reset button."

As for Dotcom, Mr Key doesn't think that long-running battle is over just yet. Dotcom's home, in Mr Key's electorate of Helensville, was infamously raided in 2012 over claims of copyright infringement and racketeering.

"He's effectively lost in court, in terms of the deportation. If he wants to explore all of his legal options, I suspect he's got more."