Nanaia Mahuta formed part of the support crew for David Cunliffe as the former leader stepped down from the competition.
The reason is unity; Cunliffe knows he cannot smooth the troubled waters threatening to sink the Labour ship.
Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare says Cunliffe's commitment to Māori issues was clear, but the same can't be said for the remaining candidates. So the chairman of Labour's Māori caucus says this Friday they'll meet with the candidates and feel them out.
Aspirations include broader spokesperson roles and higher positions on the next list.
Henare also supports the idea of a co-deputy leadership, one of which would be for Māori. He says it’s a nurturing strategy which should have been established under leaders such as Helen Clark but wasn't.
Tomorrow, the nomination window for the position closes, that will then be followed by national meetings.