'I’m putting my hand up!' - Peeni Henare keen on health minister job

By Heta Gardiner

Associate (Māori) Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Hanare has put his cards on the table, telling Te Ao Māori News he is interested in becoming Minister of Health, should Labour be in government after September's election. 

“Here I am, I’m putting my hand up!” said Peeni Henare, arms raised, with a grin on his face,  asked during an interview with Te Ao Māori News whether he wanted to be Minister of Health. 

While totally confident in Chris Hipkins as Health Minister, Henare made it clear he's ready for the top job, if approached after the election. 

"Chris Hipkins is an excellent government minister," Henare said. But he also alluded to his own ambitions for the top job in health.

"If I am fortunate enough to return to Parliament after the election, that is my ambition (to be health minister). But, for now, I am happy to focus on my own Māori health portfolios." the minister said. 

Three weeks ago, before David Clark resigned as health minister, Henare said if Clark were to resign or be removed, he would like to see a Māori in that position. Just a week later, Clark stepped down, and was replaced by Chris Hipkins, who is also Minister of Education, and the Leader of the House. 

Sir Maui Pomare is the only Māori to have held the post of Minister of Health, from 1923 - 1926.