Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Māori caucus back Meka Whaitiri: 'We support her'

Jo Moir, Political Reporter

Labour's Māori caucus is backing MP Meka Whaitiri, despite not having seen the report that prompted her sacking as minister after an altercation with her press secretary.

MP Meka Whaitiri
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

MP Meka Whaitiri Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

But National said the co-chair of the caucus, Employment Minister Willie Jackson, should be backing employees, not their bosses.

Meka Whaitiri has beenstripped of her ministerial positions but remains the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP and co-chair of the Māori caucus after an altercation in Gisborne last month.

Willie Jackson said he hadn't seen the official report but had heard Ms Whaitiri's side of the story, which he was satisfied with.

"I have access to Meka who breaks it all down for me, and so does the caucus. Look, we support her because she's been an honest and strong advocate for our caucus.''

Mr Jackson said he "prides" himself on his working relationships with staff, as "does Meka''.

National's employment spokeswoman Paula Bennett said she could understand Mr Jackson sticking up for a colleague but as a minister it was his job to uphold the law and speak up for employees.

"There is someone who has been potentially hurt in all of this. He's hearing one side of the story, he's then leaping to their support. It seems Labour is talking a lot about their person who has lost their job and not actually thinking about a victim in this,'' Ms Bennett said.

Parliament went into urgent debate yesterday over the removal of Ms Whaitiri as a minister after National's Amy Adams wrote to the Speaker Trevor Mallard requesting it.

Ms Adams told the House the removal of a minister had to be one of the most serious matters that Parliament might deal with - and there were more questions than answers about why that happened.

"So far we've had nothing. No proper statement of what happened. No proper statement from Ms Whaitiri. We've had no apology to the staff member concerned.

"We have Meka Whaitiri accused of assaulting a staff member, we understand leaving bruising on her. An assault, members of the government if you've forgotten, is a criminal offence," Ms Adams said.

"On what planet is it okay for a member who assaults a staff member to remain as a member of Parliament?" she asked the House.

Mr Jackson told Parliament he stood by the prime minister's decision and what had happened to Ms Whaitiri was tragic and sad.

"As a Māori caucus we stand behind the prime minister, we stand behind Meka Whaitiri, we stand behind the victim if the victim has been hurt," Mr Jackson said.

RNZ revealed last week senior Māori caucus colleagues had met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the investigation to throw their support behind Ms Whaitiri.

Yesterday Mr Jackson said Ms Ardern had consulted with them throughout the investigation but he said the nature of those discussions were private.

Ms Whaitiri said she was gutted about what had happened, but would not reveal any details of the incident, as a final report was yet to be released.

It could be another fortnight before that happens.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


UN Rights Declaration At 70: We Are All Born Free And Equal

On Article 1 of the UDHR: Dignity is the foundation of all human rights. Human beings have rights, and should be treated with utmost care, precisely because each one possesses intrinsic worth. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The (Delayed) Judgment Day For Theresa May

When under stress, British PM Theresa May reportedly eats peanut butter straight from the jar. Crunch time is looming... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Politely Fake Political Obituaries (And The Paris Discord)

One unfortunate side effect of “personality politics” is that when prominent politicians die, the niceties we observe at the death of private individuals get automatically extended to them as well... More>>


Unique And Vanishing: NZ Biodiversity Losses Match Global Crisis

One might think that it is buffered from some of the effects of biological erosion, especially since people only arrived less than 800 years ago. But as we show, the impact on wildlife has been catastrophic. More>>

Your Name Here(ish): Sponsor A Section On! has just launched Section Sponsorships - the newest way for you to gain exposure for your brand to Scoop’s high value audience of 500,000 monthly readers. More>>


You Did It! The Scoop 3.0 PledgeMe Closes

Update: The Scoop 3.0 Crowdsale and Crowdfunding Campaign met its target with a total of $36,024 pledged. It looks like it has all been worthwhile. We are nearly there and will ride again in 2019, our 20th year of operations. Moreover the past week has brought a number of inquiries from larger organisations, many of which have till now failed to respond to our messages... More>>