Nikki Kaye incorrectly describes Paul Goldsmith as Māori defending diversity of National's Shadow Cabinet

The new National Party leadership has incorrectly hailed Paul Goldsmith as Māori in defence of a lack of Māori MPs in the top 12 - but Goldsmith told Newshub: "I'm not Māori myself."

National deputy leader Nikki Kaye said Goldsmith - number five on National's list - "is obviously Ngāti Porou", the iwi traditionally located in the East Cape and Gisborne regions. 

Goldsmith said his family "has connections with Ngāti Porou" but added that he has "never claimed to be of Ngāti Porou descent". 

National leader Todd Muller unveiled his new Shadow Cabinet list on Monday, and former deputy leader Paula Bennett - who has Tainui ancestry through her paternal grandmother - had been pushed down to number 13. 

When Newshub asked if Goldsmith is now the only MP in National's top 12 with a Māori connection, Muller said: "Yes I think, because Paula Bennett is 13, so yes, but in terms of our front bench it's the top 14, so that includes Paula Bennett as well."

Other National MPs of Māori descent include Whangārei MP Dr Shane Reti, list MP Jo Hayes, Whanganui MP Harete Hipango, and Northcote MP Dan Bidois.

Kaye rejected the notion that National's front bench is white-washed.

"I just don't agree with that. We've got Paula, we've got Paul Goldsmith, we've got Shane Reti in the top 14, and we've given Harete Crown-Māori Relations."

But Dr Reti is not in the top 14 - he's 17th in the party rankings. 

Kaye said people can make their own view on National's list, and said National has a huge priority for Māori issues. She also highlighted how Muller has three women in his top five.

"From my perspective, in the past in the history of this political institution of the Parliament, we haven't had competent women in places that they should be."

Muller insisted his caucus is diverse, telling reporters: "We have 55 people coming from a huge amount of different experiences - gender, ethnicity, work experiences."

He said the list rankings "are less important to the jobs that I've asked them to do and that is part of the broader effort we will bring over the next few weeks".