Mixed reaction by Iwi Leaders to Labour's leadership reshuffle

updated By Mānia Clarke

Some iwi leaders question why Labour didn't elect a Māori to the party's leadership sooner.

It follows Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta's unsuccessful bid for the deputy leadership in 2014.

There are mixed reactions by some iwi leaders to the ascent of Labour's new Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis.

Iwi Chair Forum member, Sir Toby Curtis said, "Although I congratulate Kelvin, good on him.

But as for his non-Māori colleagues, I think, why didn't they support Nanaia as deputy when she bid for the position?

And because they didn't back her, the (Māori) King turned his back on them."

"Good for him and the (Labour) Party," said Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana,

"But they should've done this a long time ago because the majority of Māori supported Labour, but were too stingy to elect a Māori leader or deputy.

That's embarrassing," says Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana,

In 2014, Mahuta ran for Labour's deputy leadership with the backing of the party's Māori Council but was unsuccessful.

"My time has passed. I tried and didn't win, but that's okay.

Kelvin is now deputy and what I see is that this will strengthen us for the coming elections and a new door has opened for Māori to drive our party," says Mahuta.

Kelvin Davis was elected deputy to Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern, both unopposed earlier this week.

Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāti Kahu Chair, Makere Mutu says Davis needs to listen to his people.

"They know what the right path is and how to achieve that.

Adhere to that. Don't leave it for your Pākehā colleagues to tell you what to do.

Although you're the (Labour) deputy leader, you're the voice for all Māori," said Mutu.

Mahuta says the new leadership will focus on gaining younger voters.

However, time will tell whether Labour's leadership reshuffle will win them next month's election.