Debbie Ngarewa-Packer on how the Māori Party plans to avoid a repeat of 2017

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer wants to focus on policy and campaigning "differently" to ensure the party doesn't return to the "brink of oblivion." 

The Māori Party received 1.2 percent of the party vote in the final count, released on Friday - enough to give them two seats in Parliament, bringing in Ngarewa-Packer off the list.

Ngarewa-Packer told Newshub Nation on Saturday she was "overwhelmed, humbled and extremely excited", and confident the party won't go back to the dire days of 2017, in what she describes as the "brink of oblivion". 

She says the Māori Party spent their three years away from Parliament wisely and made changes in regards to policy, comms and marketing. 

"We've had three years away, we've developed policy platforms that are really about addressing and providing solutions for our whanau.

Ngawera-Packer says her era of leadership will be about spending time on the ground, rebuilding branches and developing a youth voice. 

"We've been able to reconnect with rangatahi so much of our comms, our marketing, the way that we've been thinking, has been developed in collaboration with our rangitahi." 

She says the party will "continue to grow" this progressive way of thinking and plans to get cut through on their policies, despite criticism from other parties. 

The Māori Party campaigned progressive policy such as doubling benefits and raising the minimum wage to $25 per hour - despite criticism from Labour. 

"We will use the same tenacity that we have got to make cut-through... We intend to use whatever access whether it be advocacy and debating, whether it'll be continuing to lobby on other relationships in Parliament." 

The co-leader blasted the idea the Labour Party didn't "need" the Māori Party.

"The question is Labour doesn't need us - well I think they are saying they don't need us, but actually our people are saying that they do." 

She says important issues such as poverty and housing need a "cross-party approach", especially in a post-COVID-19 world. 

"We've always said we're happy to work with Labour, that's always been our whakaaro and it'll continue to be now whether they take that offer or not is up to them." 

She added she was "disappointed" to hear Labour Party deputy leader Kelvin Davis say on Saturday that he didn't believe a separate Oranga Tamariki agency was needed for Māori children.

"That's not what the multiple reviews and audits are saying."