The Labour Party's Māori caucus has come out in a strong position following the selection of a new party leader.
Andrew Little defeated fellow contenders Nanaia Mahuta and David Parker, while nudging ahead of second place Grant Robertson at 1.04%.Despite Nanaia Mahuta receiving the support of Labour's Māori members, it seems their strategy really came into play in the second and third voting rounds where they shifted their weight behind Andrew Little.
As we know in politics, loyalty pays dividends.
New leader Andrew Little knows he's indebted to Labour's Māori caucus and party members and it seems that will come by way of the front bench.
In the first round of voting, Grant Robertson quickly took the lead. However, the second round saw Nanaia Mahuta's support shift behind Andrew Little, giving him the lead.
In the final round, David Parker's support essentially halved both ways, leaving Little with a win by 1.04%.
Nanaia Mahuta says, “He's certainly taking notice of us given the results of the vote, in particular, the fact that 25% of it stems from Māori and Pacifika members.”
It's no secret Labour's Māori caucus is seeking reward for returning the Māori vote to the party.
“What we want is to sit down with him and discuss initiatives that we, the Māori caucus, believe will take the party forward,” Mahuta explains.
The focus now is on deputy leader, with Nanaia Mahuta saying she wouldn't necessarily turn it down if the position was offered.
“If the opportunity presents itself, I'll consider it, but I haven't had those discussions,” says Mahuta.
While Nanaia Mahuta lost, her Māori caucus certainly came away winning, having provided a Māori voice in the competition and securing an all-in with the leader.