Te Pāti Māori ceremony in Parliament to mark Meka Whaitiri crossing floor would be 'grandstanding', Labour's Peeni Henare says

Any attempt at a type of powhiri or ceremony in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon by Te Pāti Māori to mark Meka Whaitiri crossing the floor would be "grandstanding", Labour's Peeni Henare says.

Some of Labour's Māori MPs have also expressed disappointment Whaitiri didn't take up an offer to meet with their caucus to discuss her defection. She hasn't spoken to the Prime Minister about her decision, saying on Tuesday she only consulted her "trusted sources" - her whānau.

Whaitiri will return to Parliament for the first time since she made the bombshell announcement she was leaving Labour for Te Pāti Māori. She'll technically sit as an independent MP.

It's understood Te Pāti Māori want to mark the new relationship with a powhiri at Parliament. 

Responding to that, Henare told reporters on Tuesday morning: "There is no powhiri. She is still in the same House. 

"I don't see how that exactly helps."

He said it would be "grandstanding".

"There are more important issues to our people."

The Labour Māori caucus did offer to speak with Whaitiri but that hasn't happened.

"It's a real Maori thing to do, to actually get into a room on the marae usually and have a korero," said MP Tamati Coffey. "You put your case, we put our cause, we leave, we have a cup of tea, we move on."

He said it was hurtful she hadn't participated.

"I think that if you're going to be taking a tikanga Māori approach to your new political life, then actually, you can't be choosy about this.

"Part of it is actually dealing with the party that is feeling aggrieved and, I for one… feel aggrieved by it."

MP Shanan Halbert said senior minister Nanaia Mahuta was the one to extend the invite to Whaitiri to "clear the air", but it wasn't something she wanted to do.

He respected her decision but was disappointed.

"Meka is a relation of mine, so there's a longstanding relationship with her there," he said. "That will continue. But there's an opportunity for us to come together in the House so that we can work together [and] focus on the issues that matter to Māori."

Senior minister Kiri Allan said she had reached out to Whaitiri ahead of her return to Parliament.

She said she wasn't disappointed by Whaitiri not meeting with Labour's Māori caucus.

"Meka will make her decisions. We can do what we do. 

"There is a lot of time for us to be in pretty close confines from here until the election."

Whaitiri earlier suggested to TVNZ she didn't feel heard within Labour. 

Allan, however, said she feels heard in the caucus.

"I think that we have been very, very strong on the wins that we have been able to achieve for te ao Māori as well as for New Zealand."

She said she had had "no instinct or indication [Whaitiri] was likely to leave".

Allan said there will be "lots of time for reflection". 

"[It's] probably a good time for each of us to remember our 'why.' Why are we here? 

"I am unapologetically from the East Coast. I am unapologetically relentless in pursuit of what is right for our people up there on the coast."

Mahuta said "there was a lot of sadness and disappointment" at Labour's Māori caucus meeting.

"People weren't sure why Meka left. She has now made clear she left for her own reasons. 

"She is moving on. We are moving. 

"We have a lot to do," Mahuta added.

Willie Jackson, also of Labour's Māori caucus, said an offer was made to speak with Whaitiri but she didn't want to join.

"That's up to her. We are getting on with things," he said. "We just want to get on with the business. There are so many issues in front of us as the Prime Minister said."

He said Whaitiri hadn't raised any concerns with him.

"I feel heard and I feel like… this is a Prime Minister, like the previous Prime Minister, who's always got his door open and we're able to bring up issues all the time."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on AM on Tuesday morning said he hadn't heard issues from Whaitiri.

"She hasn't raised any concerns, at any stage, with me or with other leaders within the party and we do create a lot of space for Members of Parliament and for minister to be heard."

The Prime Minister said Whaitiri, despite being a minister outside of Cabinet, was a member of multiple Cabinet committees.

"Every MP within the Labour team gets the opportunity to raise any issues that they want to and she didn't do that at any point."

Ultimately, the defection was Whaitiri's decision, Hipkins said.

"She's made her decision, she's announced it, she's done and so now we've got to really focus on the more pressing issues that are in front of us which are around the Budget next week, around the cost of living and, of course - directly revelation to the people of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti - supporting them through the cyclone recovery."