The Maori Party says it is ready for a by-election in Hauraki-Waikato if the current Labour MP, Nanaia Mahuta resigns from Parliament early.

There was speculation in Wellington last night that she may be ready to resign, possibly within the next few weeks.

Maori Party President, Tuku Morgan, says he can understand why.

“The rug has been pulled out from under her by the King (Tuheitia) regarding his withdrawal of support for the Labour party,” he said.

“That’s the game changer.”

Ms Mahuta has indicated she is considering resignation.

Over the weekend she told TV3’s “Marae” programme that the question “gets asked every three years” and any politician worth their salt should ask if they have done their time.

“I’ll make whatever decision I make based on the fact that I want to see a change of government.”

Morgan says Mahuta has been looking for a place at home, for some responsibilities at home “and that’s been on going for some time.”

“So I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes soon.”

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Morgan says he has a strategy for any by-election ready to go, and there is an impressive line-up of would-be candidates waiting in the wings.

“If she was to go tomorrow or next week, we are ready to go,” he said.

Any by-election in Hauraki-Waikato would be a test of the recent electorate deal done by Morgan with Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira.

Based on the last election results, even if Mana stood aside and all their votes went to the Maori Party candidate, Labour would still be ahead by over 4000 votes.

Morgan, Harawira and the King all boarded at St Stephen’s school together. And Morgan believes that is important.

“What is clear here is that the King has challenged us to unite and to claw back those seats that sit with the Labour Party.”

But he is also hinting that the King’s speech and its implications for the Kingitanga movement will not be the only major Maori political change before the next election.

“When you consider that the brass band from Ratana and the number two from the Ratana movement was  there when he made the speech there are things to come but those sort of processes have to take their course.”

Morgan is clearly hinting that he belives Ratana are ready to break with the Labour party and shift their support to the Maori Party.

Such a move could be disastrous for Labour which holds six of the seven Maori seats largely on the basis of its relationship with Ratana.

Morgan’s goal is for the Maori Party to hold the balance of power and he needs to hold as many of the Maori seats as possible to achieve that.

In the meantime he is about to embark on a nationwide tour to listen to his party members and then on October 28, the 181 st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes, he will launch the Maori Party’s campaign for 2017.

That is, of course, if he hasn’t had to launch a by-election campaign before then.

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