National | Adrian Rurawhe

Māori in high-profile roles as Mallard, Faafoi exit parliament, PM reshuffles cabinet

Controversial house speaker Trevor Mallard will leave parliament after 35 years, following controversial handling of the COVID-19 mandate protests.

The move is just one in a myriad of changes triggered by the Prime Minister's cabinet reshuffle announced this afternoon, that sees a number of Māori MPs elevated to high-ranking positions within cabinet.

The rejig will see Police Minister Poto Williams ousted from her post, but high-profile promotions for East Coast MP Kiritapu Allan as Justice Minister and the broadcasting portfolio for Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson in the wake of Kris Faafoi's shock resignation.

Mallard said today he wanted to leave parliament at the last election, but was convinced to stay by the Prime Minister, but there have been growing calls for him to leave the post following the February COVID-19 mandate protests, where he flooded parliament grounds and ultimately used police to eject protestors.

The PM says Adrian Rurawhe (Ngāti Apa) - currently the MP for Te Tai Hauāuru, will be put forward as Mallard’s replacement.

Above: Out with the old, in with the new, the Māori ministers taking top jobs in the Prime Minister's cabinet reshuffle Video / Whatitiri Te Wake

Poto Williams was credited as ‘capable’ by Ardern, but she said the pair agreed focus in policing had been lost, so she would move across to conservation and disability issues.

Alluding to increasing gun crime and gang tensions, Ardern said police needed to ‘get back to basics’.

Chris Hipkins will take over the portfolio and hand over the Covid-19 pandemic response to Dr Ayesha Verrall, who also takes on Research and Innovation.

Faafoi Exits

In announcing the surprise exit of Minister Faafoi, the PM said while he had done a ‘huge’ amount of work, he had considered leaving Parliament at the last election, but now as his son starts school, the time was right.

"I spoke with the Prime Minister about my wishes at the last election, and we had a more recent conversation the end of the last school holidays. I thank her for being supportive and allowing me to call time on my political career. I remain in awe of her strength and leadership.” Faafoi said.

"I am the father of George, Fred and Theo who say they want to see more of their Dad, which is something I think is a reasonable ask.

"It's been an honour to serve New Zealanders as a Minister and as a Member of Parliament, but it is right for me to give more time to my family and for opportunities that allow that," Faafoi said.

PM promotes Jackson, Allan

East coast MP Kiritapu Allan (Ngāti Ranginui, Tūwharetoa) has been promoted for her work within Civil Defence, Arts and the Environment, the lawyer takes on the justice minister portfolio from Faafoi, and also an associate finance role.

“Kiri is a very capable Minister with a big future and this portfolio allocation is a sign of my confidence in her." Ardern said.

Māori development minister Willie Jackson (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Kahungunu) also gets an endorsement for his work in Māori broadcasting, taking on the broader broadcasting portfolio and tasked with the high stakes merger of Radio New Zealand and TVNZ.

"Willie Jackson picks up broadcasting which he comes to with extensive sector knowledge,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Newcomers Soraya Peke-Mason and Dan Rosewarne will enter parliament to fill the seats of Speaker Mallard and Minister Faafoi.