Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta shakes off King's criticisms and will stand in Hauraki-Waikato
Speculation that Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta won't contest her Hauraki-Waikato seat in this year's election has been quashed.
Mahuta confirmed at Ratana on Tuesday that she was throwing her hat in the ring despite the Maori King Tuheitia - who she is a close friend, relative and advisor to - abandoning her party and switching his loyalties to the Maori Party in a speech last year.
"I will be standing as the candidate for Hauraki-Waikato for Labour. I've thought about it over a long period of time - obviously there has been a lot of speculation but what I know is we need a change of government to ensure that the basic inequities that exist in New Zealand are reversed."
She said Tuheitia's speech at the tenth anniversary of his coronation last year where he said he'd never vote Labour again was a "reflection of Tuheitia as an individual".
"I didn't take it as a personal reflection on me. However I know a lot of people will be challenged in the decision they make but politics is a matter of choice and people will have to way up who and which party is going to best represent their aspirations," she said.
"The electorate i represent is pretty challenging so those are some of the reasons why I'm going to stand again, but more importantly in order to move forward the aspirations that exist in Hauraki-Waikato.
"We've got to tackle the issues of disparity, inequality and poverty - those are the bread and butter issues that really matter to people."
Mahuta is ranked number 12 in the Labour Party and holds the conservation, Whanau Ora and until recently the Treaty of Waitangi negotiations portfolio.
After being appointed to lead Ngati Maniapoto's treaty settlement negotiations she's had to relinquish being spokesperson for treaty negotiations to avoid a conflict of interest. Kelvin Davis, spokesman for Maori Development and Corrections, has picked up the portfolio.
If Labour was to form the next government Mahuta would be left choosing between a Cabinet role and negotiating her tribe's settlement.
Mahuta's loyalties lie in both the Kingitanga movement, which she "grew up within" and the Labour Party.
"Ratana parallels the aspirations of Kingitanga...and Labour is certainly open to that from my hearing of the message from Andrew (Little) today."
She said it was up to Tuheitia to decide if he wanted to meet with Little to flesh out his concerns with the Labour Party ahead of the election but she hoped it would happen.
Tuheitia wasn't at Ratana this year, instead his son Whatumoana Paki attended on his behalf, while the King recovers from a kidney transplant.
Little said Mahuta had been "absolutely staunch with Labour even after the King's comments last year".
"He will know how well-advised or ill-judged (the comments) were because he got that feedback, I know it."
Little praised Mahuta as a "great representative of Maoridom in Labour".