Maori Party defends abandoning Henare
Wednesday 12 Dec 2012 9:07 a.m.
The Maori Party admits it reneged on a deal to support National MP Tau Henare's bid to become Parliament's Speaker - saying it was "all about the numbers".
Mr Henare announced on Tuesday he was abandoning his months-long campaign for the Speaker's chair after the Maori Party's three MPs backed out of an agreement to support him.
"I think their own fear got to them ... the fear that they were going against the Government," he said.
It's not clear if the Government invoked its support deal with the Maori Party to swing their votes to its preferred candidate - believed to be either David Carter or Maurice Williamson - both ministers.
On Tuesday, Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples bluntly refused to answer questions about why they'd pulled their support.
But come Wednesday morning, Mrs Turia issued a statement to "correct some of the loose comments" Mr Henare had made.
"When he first approached us many months ago, we supported him to put his hand up. He is a seasoned politician, with a very proud political whakapapa, and we will always support Maori to take up leadership positions in every sphere of influence," she said.
"But as we all know, politics is about the numbers. It just doesn't make sense for Mr Henare to blame our three votes, or sheet home all responsibility to our three MPs."
Mrs Turia said the Maori Party had been told "unequivocally" that Mr Henare had no support from National MPs, and there was uncertainty from other parties.
"Under these circumstances, we felt it was unlikely that Mr Henare's bid for the Speaker role would be successful and it was appropriate to let him know this."
Prime Minister John Key said he had discussed a potential vacancy for the role with the Maori Party, and it was his "expectation" they would vote for the government's nomination.
Mr Henare, one of National's most outspoken and, at times, hot-headed MPs, was a longshot for the role but says he is the only one who actually wants it.