Te Pāti Māori not revealing Meka Whaitiri correspondence with Speaker

Parliament's Speaker has had to explain his ruling that rogue minister Meka Whaitiri is allowed to stay in Parliament.

That's despite the waka-jumping law designed to boot her out for switching teams. 

Speaker Adrian Rurawhe says Whaitiri's so-called resignation from Labour was not a resignation at all. But he won't release the letter she sent him and neither will Whaitiri.

My, oh my, Meka's made a mess.

Her failure to follow through on her commitment to cross the floor has caused an almighty constitutional confusion.

"The decision to cross the floor is not an easy one, but it's the right one," she said on Wednesday.

Even the boss of Parliament was all in a fuddle as he tried to explain why Whaitiri is still an MP.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said nobody can as it's "an unholy circus". 

Strap in, let's get technical. 

The law says an MP's seat becomes vacant (they must leave Parliament) if the MP ceases to be a parliamentary member of the political party for which they were elected.

To meet that, either the MP must deliver a signed written notice to the Speaker resigning their membership from their political party or a written notice saying they wish to be recognised as either an independent Member of Parliament or a member of another political party.

Whaitiri expressly said she had done that in her announcement on Wednesday:

"I have officially notified the Speaker that I have resigned from the New Zealand Labour Party and have joined Te Pāti Māori effective immediately," Whaitiri said on Wednesday.

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler said: "I think that sort of letter would have been enough to cause Meka Whaitiri to no longer be an MP. It might be one of the reasons why it wasn't sent."

But Speaker Adrian Rurawhe said whatever he was sent didn't meet the threshold of the waka-jumping law. 

He said that her letter simply said Labour wasn't allowed to cast her vote in Parliament anymore and she wants to sit with the Māori Party.

The Speaker won't release the letter.

"I receive correspondence with Members daily. It is extremely important that Members can trust that all such correspondence can remain confidential," he said. 

The architect of this iteration of the waka-jumping law we're all talking about said Whaitiri must release her letter - and the Speaker's said she can. 

"You've got to find out what Meka Whaitiri wrote to the Speaker about and we are still waiting to hear from her," said Peters. 

National's Chris Bishop said Whaitiri should release publicly "exactly what she said to the Speaker".

Te Pāti Māori wouldn't be interviewed by Newshub on Thursday and nor would Whaitiri.

When Newshub asked Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere to send us the wording of the letter, he messaged back: "We took advice and are happy with that... we are not accountable to U (sic) we are accountable to the law".

In case you're wondering, no, Whaitiri still hasn't given the Prime Minister a bell.

"I'd expect that I would have at least received a phone call. So, obviously, I am disappointed that hasn't happened," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Just as in the dark as the rest of us.