Politics | David Cunliffe

Māori and Pacific MPs future leadership role with Labour unclear

Former Labour leader, David Cunliffe has confirmed if he is re-elected, he will offer Grant Robertson the Deputy Leadership role of the Labour Party.

However he has stopped short of offering a similar opportunity to his former running mate and leader of Labour’s Māori caucus, Hauraki-Waikato MP, Nanaia Mahuta.

Mahuta took out the Hauraki-Waikato electorate with a huge margin and Labour also came out on top with the Party vote in that rohe and while she has stood as a running mate for Cunliffe in the past, the possibility of this happening again doesn't seem likely.

The Party had its worst election loss in over 90 years, but its Māori MPs did well and won six of the seven Māori seats, while boosting the Party vote for Labour in all of the Māori electorates.

While he was pressed in an interview on Native Affairs to confirm whether he would be offering a Deputy Leadership role to Nanaia Mahuta and reward the success of the Māori and Pacific MPs of Labour in the Election, Cunliffe would not give a concrete answer and instead referred to a possible constitutional change for the Party that could introduce Co-Deputy Leaders.

“One of the ideas floating around and that is a party matter because it is a constitutional change is to examine the possibility of having Co-Deputy positions where one may be Māori and I think that’s an idea that definitely needs a look.”

Regardless of the possibility of a constitutional change, the future of Māori and Pacific MPs and the specific role they will play in the leadership of Labour's future remains unclear, as no confirmation was provided as to whether the potential new Co-Deputy Leader roles would in fact be filled by Māori or Pacific representatives of the Party.

While Cunliffe told Mihingarangi Forbes he acknowledged and would reward the Māori and Pacific MPs by elevating them to senior leadership roles within the Party, the possibility of Nanaia Mahuta being a running mate for Cunliffe in his battle to win back the Labour leadership seems to have been taken off the table.