Willie Jackson defends Meka Whaitiri staying on as Māori caucus co-chair

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says it is appropriate for Meka Whaitiri to be co-chair of the Māori caucus of the Labour Party.

Earlier this week Ms Whaitiri stepped aside from her role as Customs Minister while an investigation into a staffing matter was carried out.

It is believed the probe follows allegations of a physical incident with another staff member in her office, which involved some shoving.

Ms Whaitiri is also an Associate Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Local Government and Crown/Māori Relations.

Mr Jackson told Newshub Nation Ms Whaitiri was still the co-chair of the Labour Party Māori caucus, in spite of being stood down from her other portfolios.  

"In this country we go through certain processes and she has to go through a process," Mr Jackson said.   

"She is still a member of Parliament."

He denied there was a different standard for the Māori caucus saying what they believe in is justice and she was still the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

"I think all New Zealanders would agree there is a process to go through before we shut Meka Whaitiri down."

Mr Jackson told Newshub Nation host Lisa Owen morale was "fantastic" in the Labour caucus, in spite of both Ms Whaitiri and Clare Curran losing portfolios.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern removed Ms Curran from Cabinet after she failed to officially record a meeting she had in relation to a vacant role.

"As the Prime Minister said, that's government, that's politics. These things happen. What you might perceive as a crisis and catastrophe happening is not the reality out on the streets."

He refused to answer a question over if the allegations against Ms Whaitiri are upheld should she go from Parliament altogether, saying it was not right to speculate.