Labour Māori Council backs Nanaia Mahuta in leadership race

By Ripeka Timutimu

The Labour Māori Council is backing Nanaia Mahuta to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

The race for the Labour leadership officially begins next week, and candidates made a fleeting visit to Rātana Pā to meet Māori.

She's the latecomer to the leadership race, but Nanaia Mahuta is out to a good start in claiming the top seat for Labour.

Chairperson of Te Kaunihera Māori, Daniel Phillips says, “Te Kaunihera Māori have come to a resolution of endorsing Nanaia Mahuta to be leader of the Labour Party.”

Mahuta has been an MP since 1996, she was the surprise inclusion in the race, but chairman of the Māori Council is backing her abilities.

“Nanaia is the leader that could bring us together and win our 2017 election.”

Though that vision may not be shared by all Māori Labour MP's themselves. Rino Tirikatene nominated Grant Robertson in the race, and though he is a part of the Māori caucus, the rules say it's each to their own.

It's no secret that some Māori members wanted more influence at the top level. Despite the success in the Māori seats, there's no guarantee of better seats at the table if either become leader.

The first official meetings will be held this Wednesday in Wellington.