The Hauraki-Waikato MP, Labour's Nanaia Mahuta, has been given an unprecedented slap by the Maori king, who says she's destined for the backbenches where there is, in his words, "no mana".
Yesterday Tuheitia Paki publicly endorsed tribal leader and prospective Maori Party candidate Rahui Papa for the seat.
Ms Mahuta is a cousin of the king and has been the region's MP since 1999.
She was taken aback by Tuheitia's unprecedented step into the political arena.
Some are now saying the election is shaping as a referendum on the relevance and power of the Kingitanga.
RNZ's Maori Correspondent Mihingarangi Forbes has more