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Pem Bird optimistic about party's future

Thursday 04 Jul 2013 6:23a.m.

Pem Bird optimistic about party's future

Outgoing Maori Party president Pem Bird is upbeat about the party's future under new leadership.

Mr Bird is standing down at the party's annual meeting on July 13, along with co-leader Pita Sharples.

Dr Sharples announced his decision after the party's dismal showing in Saturday's Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election and was quickly followed by Mr Bird saying he won't seek another term as president.

"We truly believe in the amazing potential of our movement to lead us into tomorrow," Mr Bird said.

"My decision to not seek re-election represents my decision to allow the waka to travel forward with new energy at the helm."

The party is going to have to rebuild after coming third in the by-election behind Labour and the Mana Party.

It faces a hard fight in the 2014 general election to hold its three seats in parliament.

Dr Sharples is making way for MP Te Ururoa Flavell, ending a leadership squabble that has been going on for more than a year.

Mr Bird says his decision to stand down wasn't connected with that or the by-election result.

He is a school principal and says he's been finding it difficult to pay full attention to his job.

Dr Sharples plans to remain as minister of Maori affairs until shortly before the next election.

The party's other co-leader, Tariana Turia, is retiring at that election and it's not yet clear whether a successor will be selected at the annual meeting.