Chris Hipkins 'disappointed' to still not have heard from Meka Whaitiri

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins still hasn't heard from Meka Whaitiri and says he doesn't understand why she switched political parties. 

As the Prime Minister woke in the United Kingdom in anticipation of the King's coronation on Saturday, the radio silence continued from his now-former minister Whaitiri. 

The Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP surprised almost everyone in the Labour Party, including the Prime Minister, after it publicly came to light she was crossing the floor to Te Pāti Māori.

Whaitiri has been removed as a minister of the Labour Government but appears to have kept her job as an MP by a technicality

Hipkins spoke to media on Wednesday morning (local time) from the United Kingdom after visiting New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel training Ukrainian troops outside of London. 

"I've still not heard from Meka Whaitiri, I'm still not clear exactly what her reasoning or thinking was behind her decision to switch political parties."

The Prime Minister said he at least expected a phone call from Whaitiri, telling media he's "disappointed" that still hasn't happened.

"That's ultimately Meka's decision."

Hipkins said he wasn't aware of any situation where a politician decided to leave their political party and hadn't picked up the phone to explain why. 

"So yes, that is very disappointing. Ultimately that's a matter for Meka to reflect on."

Hipkins said he's spoken frequently with Whaitiri since taking office as Prime Minister and she hadn't raised any concerns with him.

Whaitiri said her move to Te Pāti Māori is her "calling" adding, "It's who I am as a Māori".

She's been set free, she said.

"She's unlocked the shackles and emancipated me."

In switching sides, she's effectively turfed out Te Pāti Māori's already selected Ikaroa-Rāwhiti candidate, her cousin Heather Te Au-Skipworth.