Nanaia Mahuta announces candidacy in Labour leadership race

By Maiki Sherman

A senior Māori member of Labour plans to pursue the Labour leadership; Nanaia Mahuta has announced her candidacy in the Labour leadership race.  Nominations closed in the last half hour, with the Hauraki-Waikato MP, descendant of the royal family of the Kīngitanga submitting her name.

It was a surprise decision.  At 5pm this afternoon, the nomination period closed for the Labour Party leadership.

Louisa Wall and Su'a William Sio signed her nomination form, it's a sign of the reason behind her stand, Nanaia Mahuta says she wants to provide a strong voice for Māori and Pacific Island as the party goes forward.    

She's the most senior member of Labour's Māori caucus, and following their epic sweep of six Māori seats, they are looking for greater influence. 

Nanaia Mahuta says she has the skills for the leadership position and is confident she can unite the party.

The Māori caucus knows it needs to make significant gains, as not to waste the support given to them by Māori.

This morning, Meka Whaitiri indicated a possible interest at the leadership level.  She's met with her local electorate committee who say they want to see a Māori leader.    

However, Nanaia Mahuta came away from today's Māori caucus as the candidate.  As for those who criticise her work ethic, she has but one thing to say.

“If there was any merit to that (criticism), I wouldn't be here,” says Nanaia Mahuta.

The other candidates are also well aware the Māori caucus deserves to be rewarded.

So, following on from a strong win by Labour's Māori caucus in the Māori seats, they are now standing strongly within the Labour Party as it moves forward.

We'll soon see what reaction, particularly by party members, there is to Nanaia Mahuta's bid.

The national hustings will now commence where each candidate will have the opportunity to lay out their vision.