Meka Whaitiri to dump Labour for Māori Party - report

Minister Meka Whaitiri is reportedly expected to resign from the Labour Party and stand as a candidate for the Māori Party in the upcoming election.

Te Ao Māori News reported she will make a formal announcement on this at Waipatu Marae in Hastings on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the acting Prime Minister, Carmel Sepuloni, said: "We're aware of the media speculation. We have nothing further to add at this point."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is currently on his way to the United Kingdom for King Charles' coronation. It's unknown whether he's aware of the situation.

Newshub understands members of the Labour Party can't get in touch with Whaitiri.

Labour MP, and former minister, Phil Twyford told Newshub he had seen media reports about Whaitiri potentially jumping ship.

"Seems like it is speculation right now so not much I can say," he said.

He said he didn't think she had raised any concerns about Labour's direction.

Outgoing Labour MP Aupito William Sio said "we just have to wait til tomorrow". He said we don't know what Whaitiri will do.

Labour's Terisa Ngobi also only said she had seen reports in the media and had no other comment.

Whaitiri joined Parliament in 2013 after winning the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election.

She was appointed ministerial roles following the 2017 general election, but these were later stripped after allegations of bullying.

Whaitiri was reappointed as a minister after the 2020 election. She's currently a minister outside of Cabinet and holds the Customs, Food Safety, and Veterans portfolios. She's also the Associate Minister for Agriculture and Statistics.

It was only in April that Whaitiri was given the full-time role of coordinating the cyclone response for Hawke's Bay after Stuart Nash was sacked. She, however, missed out on taking the Cabinet vacancy left by Nash.

Whaitiri reportedly said in April that she was looking forward to her new role coordinating the cyclone response in Hawke's Bay.

"As MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, I know the area well, and look forward to continue working alongside the communities in my electorate."