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Maori youth appear to back Flavell for co-leader

Published: 7:31PM Wednesday March 20, 2013 Source: ONE News

The leadership rift in the Maori Party has taken another twist with younger members appearing to back a push for Pita Sharples to go.

They are instead supporting the promotion of MP Te Ururoa Flavell.

Sharples has left no one in doubt about how long he wants to be co-leader for.

"The bottom line is I'm prepared to lead us until I'm dead," he said yesterday.

The 71-year-old says he appeals to both old and young voters.

"I'm staying because I've been asked to stay by Maori leaders and Maori communities and things because I have such a high profile amongst Maori and that I do have youth groups following me as well," Sharples said today.

But it seems that was not the message from the party's leadership hui at the weekend.

"It was very clear in two of the electorates that the youth vote was definitely with Mr Flavell," co-leader Tariana Turia said.

The weekend meeting raised the idea that the three Maori Party MPs could split the leadership three ways so Flavell does not quit, and Sharples saves face.

But younger Maori voters are not buying the idea.

"I think for our younger students who may wish to serve in these parties it may look disheartening to know that they can never get a shot at the leadership because our older kaumatua will take it to the end," one man said.

A young woman said: "They really need to talk to our people and just where are we going to go and be in the future, what do we want out of a party now?"

Turia has already said she will stand down at the next election and is prepared to relinquish the leadership when her female successor is chosen. But she concedes Sharples' reluctance to budge is doing damage.

"Well I'm very sad that these issues have surfaced. And I think that it is time for us to stop thinking about leaders and start thinking about leadership," Turia said

And for younger Maori Party voters it seems that thinking should put 58-year-old Flavell in as co-leader.