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New MP already offside

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    New MP already offside - 24-Feb-2008
    Louisa Wall, the country's first Maori lesbian MP and a former champion netballer and rugby player, is already offside with her party over election policy.

    Wall says she will not actively seek the electorate vote in the Auckland Maori seat of Tamaki Makaurau, held by Maori Party co- leader Pita Sharples. Instead she will be seeking the party vote.

    Labour Party president Mike Williams said he was "surprised" at Wall's comments, as it was "absolutely not" party policy to stand aside in electorate contests in favour of the Maori Party. "We're two ticks everywhere," he said.

    Wall, who enters parliament early next month from Labour's party list, replacing retiring list MP Ann Hartley, said she would not be going head to head with Sharples over the seat.

    "It's not about me and Pita fighting. I'm going to be there as party vote Labour and talk about the difference between Labour and National."

    Maori voters had been "incredibly entrepreneurial" in splitting their votes and overwhelmingly had given their party vote to Labour. They were "definitely giving a message to the Maori Party that we want Labour in government, and that's what I'm going to be saying", she told the Sunday Star-Times.

    "If people want to give two ticks to me that's fantastic, but I'm a realist, and I'm also appreciative of the fact that Maori have been so willing to use MMP," she said.

    Williams said Wall was right in the sense that it was vital to increase the party vote in Maori seats. Labour has historically held all Maori seats, and is committed to regaining all seven. Its relationship with the Maori Party, which took four Maori seats from Labour at the last election, has been bitter and tense.

    Support for the Maori Party has grown strongly, and the party is tipped to pick up more seats at this year's general election.

    Sharples said they did not want or expect any deals from Labour, and would be seeking voters party and electorate votes. "I would think if you stand for a seat, you stand for a seat in every way."
    Ref: - Sunday Star Times


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