Ever since the Maori Party was formed, people on the left have been suspicious of where it stood. Are they generally left, or generally right? Results have so far been mixed - support for an increased minimum wage and the abolition of youth rates, votes both for and against Wayne Mapp's probationary employment bill - but I think Pita Sharples' support for Work for Dole provides a definitive answer. Over on Public Address, Tze Ming goes over the evidence showing that Work for Dole doesn't work - it actually decreases employment outcomes over the first year, and does nothing thereafter. But the purpose of Work for Dole was always ideological - to ensure that those shiftless layabouts on the unemployment benefit were properly punished for their misfortune in being victims of government-set monetary policy, not to help them find real work or a way out of poverty. Backing it marks the Maori Party as being definitively on the right and wanting to punish the poor, rather than help them.
Fortunately, being in Parliament also means being accountable to the electorate. I can't imagine this policy being palatable to the Maori Party's voters (too many of whom will remember unemployment in the 80's and 90's), and so hopefully they'll be forced to change their minds. Otherwise, they've just handed Labour a perfect stick to beat them with in the next election campaign.