The Mana Party is setting itself up to threaten not only the Maori Party's future but also Labour's core voters among the young and poor.
Leader Hone Harawira rushed back to Whangarei yesterday from Kaitaia, where he had been celebrating his Tai Tokerau by-election win, to attend his Mana Party's founding conference.
Mana would focus on simple, easy-to-understand policies in areas such as the cost of living, education and employment, he said.
"The issues are pretty simple: people in the land of milk and honey are starving. Somebody's got to change that. It's not going to be National and it sure don't look like it's going to be Labour."
He planned to take a few days off with wife Hilda to "park up somewhere" and then hit the road on a six-week national tour to lift his party's profile.
The by-election win had shown people had the power to make change everywhere, he said.
"They don't see [Labour leader] Phil Goff any longer as the champion of the working class and the champion of the poor, and if that's the case who is going to step up to that plate – clearly it's going to be Mana."
That's interesting. The presence of people like Matt McCarten, Sue Bradford, Nandor Tanczos and John Minto being involved in the set-up of the Mana Party always suggested that Mana would be making a play for the hard left at the expense of the Greens. It seems though that Harawira is bouyed to set his sights just a little higher, and take on the Labour behemoth.
Realistically though, there are only so many votes on the Left to go round, however they are distributed. Voters will be cautious in their support of the Mana Party until Harawira has proved that he can work constructively with other parties' remember that Phil Goff has already ruled out working with Harawira (after criticising John Key for ruling out working with Winston Peters).
And where does this leave the Maori Party? That's anyone's guess, but its future does not look especially bright. Interesting times await us.