Sitting MP Jenny Marcroft has been dropped to number 17 on New Zealand First's list behind nine non-MPs, including Remutaka candidate Talani Meikle who has shot up to number eight.
The New Zealand First List Ranking Committee released the party list for the election on Thursday, revealing leader Winston Peters at the top, and all of the current sitting NZ First MPs in the top 10 - except for Marcroft.
Peters said on Wednesday he thought Marcroft had been "fine" as an MP during her three years in Parliament, and he said the candidate ranking is not decided by him.
"You'll have to ask the listing committee. I'm not the one responsible for that. In that context, the matter is a board matter of New Zealand First and its directors and that's all I can say," Peters said.
"To the best of my knowledge, Jenny's been fine and I've done some serious work with her. But again, you're asking me to respond on behalf of the list committee for which I'm not responsible. The party president is."
NZ First MP Tracey Martin, who has served as Internal Affairs Minister and Minister for Children under the Labour-NZ First coalition Government, is one of only two women in the party's top 10.
NZ First's Remutaka candidate Talani Meikle has shot up the list to number eight. Meikle has owned several small businesses and says it helped her understand their needs in a way many political leaders do not.
The Remutaka seat is currently held by Labour MP Chris Hipkins.
Peters said he would like to see more women represented in the party, but he pointed out that the party president Kristin Campbell-Smith is a woman and that the secretary and treasurer are women too.
He also highlighted that NZ First's Tauranga candidate Erika Harvey, another small business owner, is ranked at number 11.
"We would like more obviously and when you say our top 10 there's one at number 11. It's very possible that she's going to get in, so we'd like more, but in the end, it's the number that stands and we choose on merit," Peters said.
"The list is decided by a board, the major members of which are women - the president, the secretary, the treasurer are all women. So, if they make a decision, I am bound to abide by it.
"You've got no political party with as much women at the top of the party as New Zealand First. You go and show me any other party with anywhere near as many women at the top of the organisation as my party's got."
Meikle said she's satisfied with the amount of female representation in NZ First.
"As Winston as intimated, it's a committee situation that makes this decision, but certainly it's an honour to be placed at number eight and I look forward to being in a position to represent New Zealand First in Parliament," she said.
"I think as a woman myself, we base these decisions in a democratic process but we also base them on merit, and that's something that I'm particularly interested in, being chosen not through tokenism, not just because I'm a woman to be placed in a position. I want to be there because I've got the right skills and the aptitude and the ability to do the job."
Marcroft is standing again for NZ First in the seat of Auckland Central.
The former broadcaster recently told Newshub that what attracted her to joining NZ First was that it's a centrist party, which she said aligned with her own personal views.
Marcroft described politics as "all-consuming".
Newshub's latest poll had NZ First on 2 percent. On that number, it would not make the 5 percent threshold to get back into Parliament, unless it won an electorate.