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Dover Leaves With Dignity

At an emotional press conference in Parliament yesterday Dover Samuels delivered his political swan-song, after being sacked as Maori Affairs Minister. Chris Holm Reports.

Mr. Samuels was also surprisingly muted in his criticism of both the Prime Minister Helen Clark and of the man many consider the architect of his demise, Richard Prebble.

Calling Miss Clark the “Rangatira who giveth and taketh away” Mr. Samuels only indirectly criticised the Prime Minister, saying he had expected all decisions about his future to be made after the police investigation into the allegations was complete.

He also diffused speculation that he would reply in kind, by saying he would throw “no mud” at ACT Leader Richard Prebble.

Mr. Samuels held the Press Conference alone - his family and two teenage children were to join him at the conference - but storms in Northland had delayed their travels.

Mr. Samuels also confirmed he would not step down from politics altogether but continue as a back-bench MP. His future is to be further discussed at a Hui at Waitangi planned for this weekend.

Meanwhile speculation as to who will be the next Maori Affairs Minister is all about, with two women in the three front runners.

The experienced Maori politician in the coalition government with the highest profile, the Alliance’s Sandra Lee, is likely to be ruled out because she is not a Labour candidate.

Maori voted predominantly Labour in the last election and the Prime Minister has indicated that for this reason she would prefer a minister from her own caucus.

Less experienced Tariana Turia is also a likely choice because of her reputation as a “doer”, and her steadfast work in the areas of Maori health and education as Associate Maori Affairs Minister. The only down side to her election to the position is her sex . As she is a woman and Turia cannot speak on all Marae.

Acting Minister and front-runner Parekura Horomia may miss out because he is the least experienced, a first term MP. The plus among some watchers is that he is male. John Tamihere is considered an unlikely candidate because of ongoing battles between him and ACT.

The entire Labour caucus will elect the next minister in a decision likely to be made in the next few weeks.

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