Uffindell investigation sparks by-election considerations

By Whatitiri Te Wake

As National scrambles to seek answers to new allegations fielded at Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell, the potential for a repeat byelection moves up a notch.

New allegations have been made this time by a former female flatmate of Sam Uffindell. She told RNZ he was an aggressive bully who in 2003 screamed obscenities, forcing her to move out of the flat.

National leader Christopher Luxon described the allegations as "concerning" and said they needed to be treated seriously.

In a statement last night, Uffindell said that when he was at Otago university he enjoyed the lifestyle, which included drinking and smoking cannabis. In his second year, his flatmates fell out and left midway through the year.

Luxon said the allegations were being investigated.

“I'll have an independent inquiry led by Maria Dew QC so we can get to the bottom of these allegations and respect both parties in the process,” he said.

More bad news for National.

Māori Party candidate?

If Uffindale were to step down after that inquiry, there will be another byelection and Tauranga Moana leader Hauata Palmer said the region was ready for a MP centred in te ao Māori.

“Tera pea ka taea e te pāti Māori ki te whakatū i tetahi Māori hei whakataetae mo te tūranga rā”

Maybe the Māori Party should stand a Māori candidate to contest the seat,” he said.

Te Pāti Māori refrained from fielding a candidate at the last byelection for fear of threats from white supremacists. Whether or not they'll field another in another byelection is yet to be decided.

“I think there were valid concerns why the party didn't (put a candidate forward) the last time. I don't know if those concerns have been alleviated. That is a discussion that sits with the mana of the electorate and at the president level,” co-leader Debbie Ngārewa Packer says.

The internal investigation in the new allegations is expected to last two weeks.