Peter Dunne says Christopher Luxon has thrown down gauntlet to PM Chris Hipkins after National confirms it won't work with Te Pāti Māori

National's confirmation it won't work with Te Pāti Māori has put all the pressure on the Prime Minister, according to a political commentator. 

National Party leader Christopher Luxon on Wednesday ruled out any arrangement in Government with Te Pāti Māori after the 2023 election.

He said Te Pāti Māori's recent behaviour, including its "disrespectful" actions in the House on Tuesday, had contributed to his decision. He painted Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori as a "coalition of chaos".

Political commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne told AM Early on Thursday the move wasn't a "surprise" and turns all the attention to Labour leader and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. 

"The timing is quite good from National's point of view because what Luxon has done is really throwing down the gauntlet to Hipkins to say what Labour's attitude will be," Dunne told host Michael O'Keeffe.  

"[Hipkins has] got to state his position with regard to Te Pāti Māori. I think what Luxon is calculating upon is that for the sort of voters he's after, they will be quite happy not to be involved with Te Pāti Māori and if they see the Labour Party not ruling them out, then they may well start to drift from Labour to National." 

Dunne believes it was a political move by Luxon to make an early announcement to rule out working with Te Pāti Māori, and the attention now turns to Hipkins and whether Labour will work with them. 

The Prime Minister needs to make a call on it before the election rolls around, Dunne believes.

Hipkins has "got to make it clear to people", he said. 

"At the moment, he's giving a very sort of non-committal set of replies, which is understandable, but I think people will want to know exactly what sort of package they are likely to be voting on come election time," Dunne said. 

"I think enough people were burned after the last election when Labour suddenly found itself with an overall majority and started making policies that had never been put to the electorate. 

"They will want to know this time exactly what they're buying when they vote and I think Hipkins is going to have to spell out his intentions with regard to the Māori Party sooner rather than later." 

Some polling has shown both the National/ACT and Labour/Greens blocs would need Te Pāti Māori to form a Government.

Te Pāti Māori leader co-leader Rawiri Waititi told Newshub Nation on Saturday he believes his party will be the kingmaker at this year's election. 

But with National ruling out working with Te Pāti Māori, it has suddenly become a Labour "stooge", Dunne believes.

Political Commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne said the move by National wasn't a "surprise".
Political Commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne said the move by National wasn't a "surprise". Photo credit: AM

Te Pāti Māori has a position in Parliament due to Waititi winning an electorate seat in the 2020 election. It's still polling under the 5 percent party vote threshold, so would rely on winning an electorate again to return to Parliament. 

Dunne believes there is one move that could put them in the box seat when the election rolls around and could make them kingmakers again. 

"Waititi said at the weekend they wanted to be the kingmaker, well that's now been removed because one side of the question said we won't play. So the Māori Party is in this dilemma, it's got to rely on Labour," Dunne told AM Early. 

"If I was in the Maori Party, I reckon I would be saying, 'Look the smart move is to say we won't work with either. We'll sit on the crossbenches if we've got the balance of power and we'll decide each issue as it comes in the interests of our constituents and that really would have them in a better position.'

"Whether they'll do that, of course, is another question and obviously what the polling situation is going to be like, this may all be irrelevant if the result becomes a much more clear cut than it looks likely at present."

Watch the full interview with Peter Dunne in the video above.