National MP Dan Bidois has leapt to his leader's defence after Todd Muller was criticised for saying he selected National's frontbench for the jobs they do, not "the numbers" of ethnic diversity.
The party has come under fire for not having any Māori MPs in its recently reshuffled top 12. Deputy leader Nikki Kaye also wrongly identified Pākehā MP Paul Goldsmith as Māori.
Now Bidois, who is of Ngāti Maniapoto descent, has defended his leader's comments.
"National believes in diversity of experience, ideas, views and talents, and I believe Todd Muller has put together a top team to reflect the diversity required at a time of national crisis," he wrote in a Facebook post.
"National doesn't select people on the colour of their skin and as a Māori kid from an aspirational middle-class background, this is important to me."
Bidois' message left commenters divided. While one person agreed, saying the frontbench should depend on "best available for the job, no matter the skin colour", another remarked that now National's lineup "resembles a colonial government".
"So the National Party have failed to attract or nurture internally any Māori talent to promote to their front bench. Gotcha," one person replied on Twitter.
"Why does your party, especially its current front bench, have such a low opinion of its Māori MPs that it demoted the top two and didn't replace them with other Māori MPs? Are you all really that useless?" another said.
Judith Collins has also pushed back at comments on diversity. On Tuesday, she asked reporters if there's "something wrong" with her being white, and during a hearing of Parliament's Finance and Expenditure committee on Wednesday, she said she was "utterly sick of being demonised" for her ethnicity.