The Maori Party is a creature of the bastard political system called MMP. I detest MMP because it's a con. It's tail wags dog politics that forces compromise based on the lowest common denominator and reduces Party manifestos to nothing more than a meaningless wish list.
Having said all that one can understand how certain sections of Maoridom embraced MMP as providing them with the opportunity to exercise real political power. For decades the Labour Party has patronised Maori ... fed them crumbs and treated their MPs as voting cannon fodder. For their part, Labour's Maori MPs are mostly distinguished by their mediocrity. Take their current mob. Their senior MP and her only achievement that I can see is to get herself a moko. Then there's the boy from oooop North ... some had high hopes for him until he starting pimping for crims. That leaves four ... anyone know who they are? Give you a clue ... they're are troughing plonkers.
The Maori Party was spawned out of the seabed and foreshore debate when it became clear that Labour would not/could not deliver to Maori what they wanted. It achieved spectacular political success in the 2008 election and then egos got in the way and and the resultant fracturing of their vote almost led to its demise. 2014 left them with one electorate seat and one additional list MP.
There are signs of a revival (of sorts). There is apparently dialogue between the Maori and Mana parties which could led to some sort of electoral pact, Needed because as sure as God made little apples there ain't room for two Maori parties. Allied with that is the stand taken by the Maori King when he said he could never again vote Labour. That carries weight in Kingitanga. There are also indications that Labour's Ratana support base could be weakening. And now the news that Labour's candidate in the Waiariki electorate in 2014 has defected to the Maori Party. That suggests to me that reports of the pending demise of the Maori Party have been greatly exaggerated. Could 2008 repeat itself?
And all this against the backdrop of a further Labour Party slump in the polls ... just why Maori should want to back losers quite escapes me.