Maori party members are crying out for a "Maori Dotcom" to bankroll them into the next election.
The party is on a fundraising and membership drive to save itself from extinction.
Party membership has slumped to about 600 financial members from its peak of about 23,000 in 2005.
At its annual conference yesterday, keynote speaker and communications consultant Matthew Jansen warned the party would be wiped out in 2014 - or at the 2017 election if it was lucky.
It won four electorate seats in 2005 and five in 2008. After the defection of Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira to set up Mana, it won just three seats at the election in 2011.
Jansen said it was fatal for minor parties to concentrate on the electorate vote. "A focus on the party vote can help you win in electorates, but not vice versa. The first vote you have to win is the party vote." He endorsed the talk by the party leadership of extending the support base to Pakeha and even suggested the party consider a name change.
Co-leader Pita Sharples later ruled that out.
Jansen, son of former Hamilton mayor Sir Ross Jansen, addressed the party's national council in August with a similar message.
A shift to a party-vote campaign is likely to cost more and, with $166,000 in the bank, the party is set to begin a recruitment and fundraising drive.
Party president Pem Bird made several references to the party not having a "Maori Dotcom", a wealthy backer, but he said "third party" backing could make the party more flush. He said it would not be possible to run a serious party-vote campaign without some serious money.
Looking for a wealthy backer is all very well. But somehow, we reckon that Pem Bird has chosen his analogy very poorly. After all, what political party in its right mind would want to have anything to do with Kim Dotcom right at the moment.
Still; it could have been worse we suppose. Pem Bird could have said that the party needed to find a Maori Bill Liu!!