Meka Whaitiri accused of abandoning Tairāwhiti as it grapples with Cyclone Gabrielle's aftermath

A former NZ First MP has accused Meka Whaitiri of abanding her people of Tairāwhiti for "political ambition" after her bombshell announcement to ditch the Labour Party.

The Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP announced her resignation from Labour earlier this week and intends to sit with Te Pāti Māori in Parliament and stand for the party at the election.

After being involved with Labour for 20 years as a worker for Labour Party politician Parekura Horomia and then a Labour MP, Te Pāti Māori's co-leader Rawiri Waititi told Newshub Nation it was time for Whaitiri to "come home". 

Appearing on Newshub Nation's political panel, Newshub presenter Oriini Kaipara said the idea that Whaitiri has "come home" struck her.

"In my idea, I thought she's always been home, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti is her home," Kaipara told co-host Rebecca Wright. "... Are they telling us that Labour wasn't actually the place for her, although she spent 10 years prior to becoming an MP with Parekura Horomia?"

"Home as a Māori is where your people are, where your roots are, and they've always been, for her, in Te Tairāwhiti."

Former NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft told the panel Whaitiri has abandoned her area at a time when they are in need as the region grapples with Cyclone Gabrielle's recovery.

"That should have been her focus, not personal ambition," Marcroft said.

Waititi said it was going to be more effective for the people of Tairāwhiti for Whaitiri, who was the Cyclone Recovery Minister, to be on the outside - but Marcroft disagreed.

Marcroft said to "pull leavers" she needs to be inside the Government.

Watch the full political panel above.

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