Labour leader Andrew Little is confident his MP Nanaia Mahuta will remain with Labour and retain her Hauraki-Waikato seat. This follows King Tuheitia's public endorsement of Māori Party candidate hopeful Rahui Papa and questioning of Mahuta's loyalties.
Little is backing the Hauraki-Waikato incumbent 100 percent.
“She's proven herself time and again to be an outstanding campaigner. She did an outstanding job in 2014, frankly when the tide was going against Labour, so I back her and she has my support and my loyalty because Nanaia has a major role to play in the next Labour-led government and I'm going to make sure of that.”
King Tuheitia made it clear what his political aspirations are for Hauraki-Waikato at the Paaraawera poukai yesterday.
"I'm putting the Kiingitanga support behind Rahui, and if Nanaia wants to stay in Labour, well I know where her loyalties are. If she doesn't come off there, she's with Labour, she's not with the Kiingitanga."
Little says, “That's an outrageous thing to say I think it shows a disloyalty by the King to Nanaia and all she has done for Kiingitanga movement and for Waikato Māori. I think it's an abuse of his office.”
Māori party nominee Rahui Papa says, “This is not about dirty politics against each other. My sister is an integral woman and she has kept her integrity. Unlike the leaders within her Party.”
Mahuta is the daughter of the late Sir Robert Mahuta who has long served the King Movement. She has held the Hauraki-Waikato seat since 2002 and will not be standing on the Labour Party list in the coming elections.
Little says, “I think the King for the sake of his office should stop being political and let the political party's thrash it out and let Māori voters decide.”
Te Kāea made repeated requests to Mahuta for comment on the matter but received no response. However, if Mahuta remains with Labour a robust contest is expected between the two Waikato leaders.