15 May 2017

Jackson refuses to be silenced by Ngaro 'threat'

1:44 pm on 15 May 2017

Labour Party candidate Willie Jackson says he won't be keeping his mouth shut, despite an apparent threat from a cabinet minister.

Willie Jackson at Waitangi, 2017.

Labour Party candidate Willie Jackson said he would not be keeping his mouth shut. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Minister of Pacific Peoples Alfred Ngaro

Alfred Ngaro Photo: RNZ/ Koroi Hawkins

Associate Minister of Social Housing Alfred Ngaro told the National Party's Auckland Conference on the weekend there could be financial consequences for the Manukau Urban Māori Authority if Mr Jackson bagged the government on the campaign trail.

Mr Jackson heads the authority, which runs one charter school and is the largest provider of Whānau Ora services in South Auckland.

Mr Ngaro has since apologised to the prime minister, the deputy prime minister and the finance minister for his comments, which he described as naive and poorly worded.

Mr Jackson told Morning Report Mr Ngaro's comments were "unprecedented" and "very disappointing".

"I've never heard of a minister threatening a community organisation like this.

"It's a direct threat and its a worry for me.

"I've got over 100 people who work for me and we serve thousands in our community and we have contracts right across the state sector."

He said it was not just about him, it was about the rights of the community.

He said he was going to write to Prime Minister Bill English demanding assurances that community organisations would not lose funding for criticising the government.

Mr English told Morning Report Mr Ngaro's comments were off the cuff.

He said he was wrong to say what he did and he has since apologised.

He would go back and check through the decisions Mr Ngaro had made to ensure they were not based on the political views of his opponents, Mr English said.