Kelvin Davis says he 'grew up with experience' of having his Māori whakapapa questioned

Deputy Labour leader Kelvin Davis has issued an apology for attacking a Māori ACT MP, telling her to move from "her Pākehā world" into the "Māori world".

The ACT Party wrote to the Prime Minister asking for him to be suspended, but the PM thinks his apology is sufficient.

Māori ACT MP Karen Chhour, who was raised in state care, had a tough upbringing. 

"Growing up, I always felt lacking in my identity," she said on Thursday. "I finally found that confidence to stand as a proud Māori woman. It was taken away from me yesterday."

She said it was taken away from her publicly by Davis in Parliament's debating chamber

"What the member needs to do is cross the bridge that is Te Tiriti o Waitangi from her Pākehā world into the Māori world," he said on Wednesday. He also said it was "no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens".

ACT wrote to the Prime Minister asking her to discipline Davis by suspending him from the party caucus. But nearly simultaneously, Davis called Chhour to say sorry.

"I made a mistake. I rang her up. I apologised," Davis said.

"What I said was inappropriate. It caused offence. As I say to Oranga Tamariki when they stuff up, fess up and fix it, which I have done."

The Prime Minister didn't force the quick fix. Out of town on Thursday, Jacinda Ardern was checking out some Kiwi-made skincare solutions. 

She said Davis got to the apology on his own. 

"Kelvin Davis himself has acknowledged he was wrong in his statements, just being too personal," said Ardern. "He apologised. That was the right thing to do."

Davis said he told Ardern he was going to apologise. 

"She said that was the right thing to do," he said. 

ACT said the PM should have shown leadership. 

"I'm quite deeply offended by what he said," said ACT's justice spokesperson Nicole McKee. "The Prime Minister really should have spoken to Kelvin."

Chhour said Ardern needs to take a "good hard look at whether she accepts this kind of behaviour".

The very same day, a UK Labour MP was suspended for comments she made about British Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. The MP said: "Superficially, he is a black man."

The Prime Minister is rejecting any comparison and won't stand Davis down. 

"Look this warranted an apology and that's exactly what's happened."

Chhour has had an outpouring of support.

"I had a very supportive message from my foster mother last night that made me realise that I don't have to justify my Māori. I can own it." 

It's something Davis himself has experienced, having his own Māori whakapapa questioned.

"I grew up with that experience myself being a very pale skin green-eyed, blonde-haired person," he said. "So I've had that experience myself… everybody's on a continuum in terms of where they are in the Māori world. I caused offence, I apologise."

A continuum Davis is learning is not something for him to decide on.