Topics: Domestic Violence, Politics

Labour leader stands by Willie Jackson despite opposition

By Peata Melbourne

Reacting to an open letter from Labour Party members calling for the party's Council to reject Willie Jackson's membership and vote against his nomination, party leader Andrew Little stands by their latest addition.

"I think it's the responsibility of the council parties to have a look at it, look at all the issues and decide whether Willie has something to offer to the party, my view is that he does," says Little.

Attending Waitangi celebrations today in Glen Eden, Little was joined by other Labour members including the newly nominated Willie Jackson who the opportunity to share his views as their newest nominee with the hundreds in attendance of the day's festivities.

"Stop believing this nonsense that you're more Māori if you're in the Māori Party, it's about kaupapa Māori first and foremost," says Jackson.

"He's good at what he does, a great spokesperson for urban Māori and he has many strengths and a lot of experience that will support Māori people," says Taitokerau MP, Kelvin Davis.

In a Facebook post however, Family and Sexual Violence spokesperson for the party, Poto Williams wrote, "I was a vocal opponent of Mr Jackson's comments during the 'Roast-Busters' incident and I do not believe that his attitude towards victims of sexual abuse match what I expect of a member of the Labour Party."

Member for Tāmaki Makaurau Peeni Henare told Te Kāea today that " He (Willie Jackson) apologised for his comments three years ago, I support him."

Their leader too unwavering in his support for Jackson.

"Someone like Willie brings a set of experiences that we don't have, not just in the Māori caucus but in other parts of the caucus too so it adds to the Labour Party quite a significant amount which is why I think he'll be good for Labour," says Little.

Willie Jackson says, "I don't want to keep on criticising the Māori Party, but I'm tired of these deceitful talk."

Deceitful or not, all will be put to the table before the party to assess before a decision is made about Jackson's future as a Labour Party member.