Meka Whaitiri jumps waka to Māori Party in shock move

Labour cabinet minister Meka Whaitiri is expected to resign from Labour and stand as a candidate for the Māori Party in the upcoming election.

Te Ao Māori News has been told Whaitiri will make a formal announcement tomorrow at Waipatu Marae in Hastings.

Whaitiri entered Parliament in 2013 by winning the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election but was stripped of her ministerial responsibilities in 2018 over an altercation with her press secretary and allegations of bullying.

After the 2020 general election, Whaitiri was reappointed as a minister but overlooked for promotion this year when Chris Hipkins became prime minister, watching from the sidelines as Willie Jackson, Kiri Allan and Willow Jean Prime were shifted up the Labour rankings.

It’s understood Whaitiri will replace Heather Skipworth as the Māori Party candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

As a Labour candidate, Whaitiri won her seat handily in 2020 with 13,642 votes, with Skipworth second at 7,597 and the Greens' Elizabeth Kerekere on 2,080.