Politics | Kelvin Davis

'Sadness and disappointment' - Davis comments on Whaitiri's shock move

Labour’s deputy leader Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis says the party “didn’t go wrong” in its treatment of fellow cabinet minister Meka Whaitiri, following on from her shock defection to join the Māori Party and change allegiances.

He says there was no evidence of mistreatment of her, and that the news of her departure was a genuine surprise.

“We were under the impression that everything was going fine, that she was going to stand for us,” he says. “This is a decision that she’s made and she has to be made accountable for it.

“While we're busy working on the issues of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti [electorate], such as the cyclone recovery, unfortunately, she's diverted the attention away from the issues.

“Yesterday was the day for sadness and disappointment. And today is the day just to get on with things.”

While Whaitiri’s move doesn’t mean she’ll give up her electorate seat, it does mean the process of finding another Labour candidate to contest for Ikaroa-Rāhwiti begins.

Shockwaves sent yesterday, carry on today for Labour.

Labour will win

Although Davis says a number of people have put their hands up for Labour, he is also confident the party will retain the “strong Labour seat.

“I didn't get to be the MP for Te Tai Tokerau because I'm Kelvin Davis, I got there because the Labour Party got on behind me. And our Labour Party will wrap it around the candidate and support them.

“We could have done without the events of the past two or three days. But, as I say, we, the whole caucus, were saddened and disappointed because here's a colleague we've worked with for many years who has decided that she wants to be elsewhere. But we're just going to get on with things and I don't really think it's changed anything in our approach or the way forward.”

As for whether the move could affect a potential Māori-Labour Party coalition in the future, Davis says the party partnership talks will come after elections in October.

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