Dr Elizabeth Kerekere speaks out about future after Greens, whether she will work with Te Pāti Māori

"I came to Parliament to work."
"I came to Parliament to work." Photo credit: Newshub.

By Giles Dexter of RNZ

Newly independent MP Elizabeth Kerekere has ruled out joining Te Pāti Māori, in her first public comments since leaving the Greens.

Kerekere resigned from the Greens on Friday, during an investigation into her behaviour towards fellow MPs and staff.

Since then, there has been speculation she would follow in fellow newly independent MP Meka Whaitiri's footsteps, and join Te Pāti Māori.

Co-leader Rawiri Waititi indicated the door would be open for her to join.

"We're going to have those conversations with Kerekere, if she wants to have them. That's a matter for the party," he said on Tuesday.

But speaking to media for the first time since her return to Parliament, Kerekere ruled it out.

"I'm aware that people have assumed that I will go to Te Pāti Māori. I have good relationships with them but I am not going to Te Pāti Māori."

The investigation into Kerekere's behaviour began after she sent a text to a group chat of MPs and staff, where she appeared to call Chlöe Swarbrick a "crybaby". Co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson said they were concerned it was reflective of a wider pattern of behaviour from the MP.

Kerekere denied the insult was aimed at Swarbrick, and told members it was self-deprecatingly aimed at herself. Shaw and Davidson said they did not believe Kerekere's denial was credible.

She told Green Party members on a Zoom call on Friday that she felt the investigation was being dragged out, and the co-leaders were making it hard for her to continue working in the party.

But on Wednesday, the Te Tai Rāwhiti-based list MP would not say whether she felt forced out.

"It was my choice to resign. But as I said in a statement to the party, they've made it untenable to continue working," she said.

Kerekere will serve out the remainder of the term as an independent MP, before retiring at the election. The Greens do not intend to invoke the waka jumping legislation to force her to vacate her seat.

Leaving the Health Select Committee on Wednesday, Kerekere said she had work to do and that would continue.

"I came to Parliament to work. I was put in here and that's what I'll continue to do as an independent."