Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needs to be bold and appoint a Māori to be Minister of Health, Labour Hauraki-Waikato MP and cabinet minister Nanaia Mahuta says. She is backing Labour Māori caucus colleague Peeni Henare for the ministerial position.
Henare made it clear during the election that he wants the health portfolio, and he continues to press for the top job.
"There are decisions to be made but I did make myself clear during the campaign and that's acknowledging the inequities that we're all familiar with and my belief is that, with the strong Māori leadership, we can really improve our system."
Mahuta said she was pleased Henare had put his hand up for the position because Māori leadership was needed to improve health outcomes for whānau.
"I'm really glad he did do that because after the health inquiry claim before the Waitangi Tribunal and being the Minister of Whānau Ora he is well aware that the issues of inequity are systemic and that there needs to be change.
"Under his leadership, we've got more Māori on the DHBs than we've ever had before," Mahuta said, acknowledging Henare's position as Associate Health Minister (Māori Health) in the last government.
"But, fundamentally, it's important, if you want different health outcomes. It would be good to have a Māori minister there."
She said she would "absolutely" tautoko Henare's tono for the role.
"The health statistics, in fact many statistics, demonstrate that what people want to see from our government - and I think this is the strength of the mandate - is that if we want progressive change then we have to be bold."
"We're not going to lose this opportunity, and we're ambitious," she said.
"If you want a different approach, we've got some depth in our Labour Māori caucus."