Poll results: Te Pāti Māori will only work with parties 'focused on treaty-centric Aotearoa'

Politicians agree there's a lot of water to run under the bridge before next year's election, but the potential kingmaker based on new poll results says it will only work with those who "are focused on treaty-centric Aotearoa". 

The latest 1News-Kantar Public poll released on Thursday night showed National as the most supported political party for the first time since January 2020, up 7 points to 39 percent while Labour fell 3 points to 37 percent. The Greens were steady on 9 percent and ACT fell 3 points to 8 percent.

On those numbers, neither the centre-right nor the central-left bloc would be able to form a government without the support of Te Pāti Māori, assuming it returns to Parliament by winning the electorate of Waiariki. 

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Te Pāti Māori co-leader, told AM on Friday that the party wasn't focused on whether it was "left or right", but being "Te Triti-centric". That means being "unapologetically Māori". 

"We will only work with those who are focused on treaty-centric Aotearoa, a future-focused Aotearoa due to equality and equity," she said.

"We've always said that. It'll be our people that will determine that the day after the elections and we will always be true to that."

Ngarewa-Packer said there are some parties that "deny equity and deny equality".

"We can't be played off this. We have to be true to our values because there's so much going wrong that needs to go right for Tangata Whenua."

At the moment, she said, Te Pāti Māori is the only treaty-centric party in Parliament. 

"Polls are great and it's humbling to see the news last night but the most important focus for us is continuing to do the hard work that got us back in."

Te Pāti Māori could be holding the balance of power after next year's election based on new results.
Te Pāti Māori could be holding the balance of power after next year's election based on new results. Photo credit: AM.

Simon Bridges, the former National Party leader and current finance spokesperson, told AM later in the morning that the strong result for his party reflected Christopher Luxon's strong leadership and the team coming together. 

"We are not getting carried away but it is encouraging. I think what it actually shows is that the signs are for a very close election. People are really focused on this and we have seen a Labour Party that has been quite flat-footed on a bunch of issues."

He believed National could work with a range of parties, including Te Pāti Māori, but said the question is: "Would they?"

Labour minister Michael Wood, appearing alongside Bridges, was asked if Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's refusal to say New Zealand is suffering a cost of living crisis was hurting the party. 

Ardern has acknowledged the current pressures on households, putting 30 year-high inflation and soaring petrol prices down to mostly overseas events, but has danced around calling it a crisis.

"No, I wouldn't say that. What we see coming through here is the fact that we have a Government that is dealing with very challenging times and an Omicron outbreak," Wood said.

"Yes, pressure's on the cost of living, driven by international factors and it's not a big surprise to see a little bit of a reflection there.

"But I think as Simon says probably what this reflects is that we are in a tight political environment, most MMP elections are, but of course, we are also a long way out."

He said the Government was focused on key issues, such as economic recovery, climate change, and child poverty.

Ardern believes cost pressures will be eased for many families in April with increases to the Family Tax Credits, the minimum wage rise and the Winter Energy Payment in May.