Māori portfolios handed to MPs outside National's new shadow cabinet

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

What a difference a week makes. Last week Judith Collins was National leader. Today she barely scraped into new leader Christopher Luxon's top 20 shadow cabinet.

Collins got in at No. 19.

And Luxon, a lowly backbencher a  couple of weeks ago, now sits at number 1 but said rankings weren't important.

Diversity is still an issue for National after last year's election wiped out many non-Pākehā candidates so Māori MP and former No 2 Dr Shane Reti was assigned Pacific Peoples in the absence of Pasifika MPs.

Te Ao Māori News asked Luxon why he hadn't left the Pasifika role with Collins and he said Reti had the "mana" for the job and acknowledged the party had a long way to go in diversity. 

Luxon said he had deliberately selected a shadow cabinet of 20 members to match the government’s cabinet.

'Deep experience, work ethic and intellectual grunt'

"I’m confident that, when you put any of National’s shadow ministers against their Labour counterparts, you’ll see that National’s MPs have the deep experience, the political skills, the work ethic and the intellectual grunt to come out on top every time." 

Harete Hipango, who replaced Nick Smith on the list last year when he retired, has been assigned Māori development, Whānau Ora, and Children/Oranga Tamariki. All those portfolios are represented in the Labour cabinet but Hipango sits outside the top 20 National members and will be advocating from the back. 

And for those outside the top 20, the leader has decided to leave them unranked, saying it would be unnecessary. 

“The line-up I’m announcing today is based on merit and matches people to their strengths and skillsets,” Luxon said.

Simeon Brown has been outspoken on gangs and law and order and finds himself rewarded, moving up 10 spots to No. 9 on the list. He won't be talking Corrections or Police anymore though. He now has transport and public sector to his name. 

Meanwhile, Erica Stanford moves up 18 spots to No. 7 and will continue going head to head with Kris Faafoi. 

Other head-to-head clashes will include Simon Bridges vs Grant Robertson in finance, Joseph Mooney taking on Andrew Little in Treaty Negotiations and Harete Hipango debating Willie Jackson in Māori development.