Maori Party candidate Derek Fox compared PM Helen Clark and his electorate opponent Parekura Horomia with disgraced Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in a television debate over their parts in the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.
The 2003 legislation which took away Maori rights to test foreshore and seabed ownership in the courts led to the formation of the Maori Party, and Mr Fox chided Mr Horomia about it during a debate in the vital Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat which was staged by TVNZ7 in Gisborne.
"If Robert Mugabe did what Helen Clark and Parekura Horomia did, Helen Clark would be jumping up and down at the United Nations," Mr Fox said.
"The reality is that this Government, supported by my whanaunga (Mr Horomia), took away our right to go to court to see if we had a right."
The Maori Party says their rights to the foreshore and seabed were never taken away until the current Government legislated it away.
This will be a fascinating contest, and it will be a huge blow to Labour if its Maori Affairs Minister and #5 list candidate is rejected by his own people. Likewise, it is critical to the Maori Party in terms of their aim of taking a sweep of the Maori seats and holding the balance of power. Keeping Stock will watch this battle with interest.