21 Feb 2018

Shane Jones rules out shot at NZ First deputy leadership

6:25 pm on 21 February 2018

New Zealand First MP Shane Jones has ruled out taking a tilt for the party's deputy leadership position, saying he has enough on his plate.

NZ First MP Shane Jones 21 Feb 2018

NZ First MP Shane Jones. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The party's MPs are to decide next Tuesday whether Ron Mark should stay on as number two - the same day National will elect its new leadership team.

Mr Jones - who's also Forestry Minister - told media he was very happy with his current responsibilities and "not interested" in the deputy spot.

"I think my colleagues would say to me, with a billion trees to plant, Shane Jones, go to Murupara and ensure the trees are planted."

Asked who he thought would be best for the position, Mr Jones said it was up to the caucus to decide.

"There's an imaginary guillotine as one walks into the door of our caucus room. Ill-conceived words said in public cause the guillotine to operationalise."

Leader Winston Peters said he had "no idea" whether there would be more than one contender.

"We'll find out next week... I can honestly say I've never asked any of the other eight MPs whether they're standing or not."

Ron Mark said he was not "doing the numbers" to see whether he had the support to stay on.

"If I lose it, then it's been a privilege and an honour. If I'm reinstated... I'll try to do the best job that I possibly can.

"But we all need to realise that at some stage it's time for someone else to move in. I'm happy with that. We've got some talented MPs."

He said the position was "a 2IC administrative job" and there was no guarantee the deputy would eventually take over as leader.

Former NZ First deputy Tracey Martin refused to say whether she'd like another go at the job.

"No comment," she said.

Ms Martin was number two on the NZ First list when she entered Parliament in 2011 until Mr Mark successfully challenged for the role in 2015.

Fletcher Tabuteau - who was elected in 2014 - also declined to take himself out of the running, saying "where's the fun in that?"

The lowest-ranked NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft said she was "hardly likely" to enter the race having only joined Parliament last year.

She said she had not spoken with any of her colleagues about the role, but was looking forward to the caucus vote next week.

"We are literally dripping in talent in New Zealand First, so whoever is chosen, they will be a great deputy leader."

Mr Peters was confirmed by the caucus as NZ First leader on Tuesday.

"During a time of upheaval today's confirmation reinforces the stability that New Zealand First brings to the New Zealand political system," a party statement said.

Last year, Clayton Mitchell was confirmed as the party's chief whip and Darroch Ball was elected as deputy whip.

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