Ex-National leader Judith Collins loses Pacific portfolio to her former deputy Shane Reti despite vow to take it 'very seriously'

Ex-National leader Judith Collins has lost her Pacific Peoples portfolio to her former deputy Dr Shane Reti, despite vowing to take the role "very seriously". 

Collins was ousted as leader last week in a vote of no confidence after demoting her rival Simon Bridges without first consulting with the caucus. 

New leader Christopher Luxon, the former CEO of Air New Zealand, released his caucus reshuffle on Monday, and Collins has noticeably plunged to number 19 and lost her self-appointed Pacific portfolio. 

Despite telling Newshub in November last year that she would take the Pacific role "very seriously", Luxon has given it to Collins' former deputy Dr Reti, due to his "great mana", the Māori word for charisma or honour. 

Dr Reti is also ranked much higher than Collins at number five, and has kept his health portfolio. 

"Shane has huge standing, he's got great mana and he's a very dignified individual and he connects well with the Pasifika community," Luxon told reporters. 

"We had a more diverse candidate list going into 2020 than we ended up within caucus because we had a terrible election result and so we don't have the connection into the Pasifika community that I want to have. 

"Shane Reti, when having spoken with people in the community, they feel that he is a great representative of the National Party and will be able to be accepted in that community. 

"Having said that, what I've got to tell you is there's a hell of a lot of work to make sure that we are actually building a national National Party that gets to all communities, and that means we have more work to do on diversity." 

National lost much of its diversity after a crushing election defeat in 2020, which saw the caucus reduced from 56 to 33. The party said goodbye to Māori female MP Jo Hayes, Indian-born MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, and Filipino MP Paulo Garcia, among others. 

Collins has copped a bit of flack over her role as Pacific spokesperson. She was accused of "weaponising" her husband's Samoan ethnicity during a TV election debate against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

"My husband is Samoan so, talofa," Collins said, after Aorere College head girl Aigagalefili Fepulea'i Tapua'i asked the candidates what they would do to support students forced to abandon their education to support their families. 

Fepulea'i Tapua'I described the then-National leader's response as "clownery" while others accused her of using her husband's ethnicity as a "shield" against accusations of racism.  

Collins described the criticism as "disgraceful" and questioned how people could "disrespect" her husband. But if memes are anything to go by, Collins hasn't quite lived up to the Pacific community's expectations. 

Despite losing the Pacific portfolio, Collins has kept her role as technology and innovation spokesperson under Luxon's leadership. 

"Judith has a real passion for the portfolio that she's been offered there in terms of research, science, innovation and technology. She cares very deeply about it and she's going to be absolutely brilliant doing it," Luxon said. 

"Judith has a lot of great skills, she's a very experienced person, she's got a lot to offer us, and I can tell you Judith is very satisfied with that and I am too."

Luxon said the technology and innovation portfolio will "absolutely" be enough to keep Collins busy and satisfied. 

Collins, who is MP for Papakura, has not confirmed if she'll run again in 2023, though she recently said on Twitter she will "continue to advocate, not only for Papakura, but for those who have no voice". 

Former National leader Todd Muller, on the other hand, has confirmed he will stand again in 2023. The Bay of Plenty MP announced in June his intention to step down at the next election, and Newshub revealed he made the decision after admitting to badmouthing his colleague Harete Hipango to a journalist and being quoted.  

"Todd left our caucus. He now is wanting to caucus with us again which is fantastic and I've assigned responsibilities for him. He's excited to be back and we're excited to have him back," Luxon said.  

"Todd is a guy that has huge abilities and experiences. He's been assigned responsibilities. I know he wants to come back and be part of our team and we're going to move forward on that basis."