15 Oct 2014

Mahuta will represent Labour's 'core'

4:01 pm on 15 October 2014

The latest contender for the Labour leadership, Nanaia Mahuta, says she is running to demonstrate that Maori and Pacific people have a future within the party.

The contest will be a four-way race, with Ms Mahuta joining Grant Robertson, Andrew Little, and David Parker.

Ms Mahuta put her name forward just hours before nominations closed yesterday afternoon.

She said all the candidates had something to offer but the party was looking for a different way of doing things, and she offered that difference.

"This is an opportunity to demonstrate Maori and Pacific people, as a core base level of support for the Labour Party, are a part of its future."

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio said Ms Mahuta would bring a different style of leadership than Labour had seen in the past and represented a new breed of leader who embraced diversity.

Mr Sio said her candidacy sent a strong signal to Labour that it needed to take greater heed of Maori and Pasifika aspirations.

Former Mana Motuhake leader Sandra Lee believes that Nanaia Mahuta is not a far-fetched choice for the job and a good rival to Andrew Little, David Parker and Grant Robertson.

"It's not about them being white or Kiwi - it's just about them being essentially, in my view, non-entities. This tells us that Labour changes its leaders nowdays more often than some guys change their socks, and they're not looking for anything new."

Ms Lee said Ms Mahuta has served 18 years in P)arliament and was groomed from birth for a leadership role.

Support from Dover Samuels

Former Minister of Maori Affairs Dover Samuels said Ms Mahuta's decision to stand for the leadership will add an interesting dimension to the race.

Dover Samuels.

Dover Samuels. Photo: Parliament

Mr Samuels, a former Labour MP, said even though she is inspired by the support Maori and Pacific voters gave the party in last month's general election, the outcome would be determined by its membership.

He said he congratulated Ms Mahuta because they worked together as Labour MPs in Helen Clark's government.

Mr Samuels said her surprise bid added an interesting dimension, as she will be competing against three Pakeha men.

But he said unfortunately for Ms Mahuta, the leadership would be decided by party members and unions, rather than the wider public.

The first hustings meeting is in Wellington next Wednesday, and the winner will be announced on 18 November.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs