Chris Hipkins Labour leadership: Senior MP David Parker refuses to say if he will endorse

Senior Labour MP David Parker is refusing to say whether he will vote to endorse Chris Hipkins as leader but has ruled out going for the leadership himself - at least on Tuesday.

Parker, who is rumoured to potentially be eyeing a challenge, told Newshub on Tuesday morning he won't go for the leadership at the Tuesday caucus meeting.    

"The question of endorsement will come up. It is a matter between me and the caucus," Parker said.  

Asked if he would vote to endorse Hipkins, Parker refused to say.   

"It is a matter between me and the caucus," he said.  

Parker wouldn't comment any further but did say it was "not my intention" to run for leadership later in the term.   

Parker earlier this year admitted being "disappointed" with Hipkins' decision to not move ahead with a proposed tax switch idea he had developed. He subsequently asked to be removed as Revenue Minister

"You know my views on those things, I thought it was untenable for me to continue so I suggested to Chris [Hipkins] that it's in the best interests of him and the party that someone else takes that role," Parker said at the time. 

Grant Robertson said he was "absolutely sure" Hipkins would be the leader going into the 2026 election. Adrian Rurawhe also backed Hipkins and said he wanted him to be Prime Minister again.   

"Absolutely... I want him to be the leader," the current Speaker said.

The Labour caucus is on Tuesday holding a vote on whether to endorse Hipkins as leader. Such a vote is mandatory within three months of a general election under Labour's constitution.  

The initial vote isn't a contest between potential candidates, it is simply on whether the caucus has confidence in the current leader. To be endorsed, the leader needs 60 percent of the votes cast, plus one. With a caucus of 34, it means Hipkins needs 21 votes to remain as leader if all MPs vote.   

If he gets fewer than that, the leadership is vacated. MPs then have seven days to endorse a new leader (66.66 percent of the votes are needed) or an election is triggered.   

If there are multiple contenders and none get two-thirds support, Labour has an electoral college system to decide its new leader. This would see caucus members, party members and affiliates (unions) vote. Caucus votes have a weighting of 40 percent, party members are 40 percent and then affiliates 20 percent.   

Other MPs turning up to the caucus meeting on Tuesday were also asked about their plans.   

Phil Twyford, who was only narrowly returned as Te Atatu's MP, wouldn't explicitly say he would vote to endorse Hipkins but said he would be surprised if he isn't leader after the vote.   

"I think Chris has got the experience and the skills to lead Labour but this is the kind of stuff we discuss inside the caucus room."  

Twyford said he wouldn't make predictions about whether Hipkins would be leader going into the 2026 election.   

"I support Chris. He is the leader of the Labour Party."   

He said Hipkins had done a "great job" for Labour and there was collective responsibility for the election loss. He didn't expect frustration in the caucus meeting.   

Phil Twyford speaking to media.
Phil Twyford speaking to media. Photo credit: Newshub.

Jo Luxton, who lost her Rangitata seat but will return to Parliament on the list, expected a "really good meeting" and a "good chance to come together".   

She also wouldn't say explicitly if she would vote to endorse Hipkins but said reporters could "read between the lines" of her comments on him.   

"I think Chris Hipkins has done a fantastic job and we will have that conversation. I think we have got to have a vote on that. I am going to keep that close to my chest at this stage but he has done an amazing job... I am not going to say it publicly. I think he has done an amazing job as our leader."   

Labour MP Ingrid Leary said she supported Hipkins.    

"It isn't time for a different captain... I am really delighted today to say the members of the Labour Party in the deep south have sent a clear message to myself and my colleague that they want Chris Hipkins as leader.   

"I am delighted to be able to support that. I think Chippy is a really strong leader for us and he will be getting my full support at the vote today."   

She said the meeting was an opportunity to discuss Labour values.   

Jenny Salesa initially hesitated when asked if she would be supporting Hipkins, but then said: "We will be supporting our leader."  

Jan Tinetti said she wanted to hear the thoughts of her colleagues.    

"We have to have a discussion as a caucus and I am not going to have that conversation before I have had it with the caucus. Chris has done a great job, [he] came in at a difficult time.   

"I have worked closely with him but, as I have said, we have to have that discussion as a caucus."   

Ayesha Verrall said there was an important job to hold the new Government to account. She wanted to see progress continue in building a stronger health system.   

She wouldn't say if she would endorse Hipkins but said he had done a great job as leader.   

Ginny Andersen said she backed Hipkins and he would get her vote.   

Deborah Russell wouldn't discuss the leadership prior to the caucus meeting other than to say variations of "Chris is the leader and I support him".

Helen White said she was still proud of her result in Mt Albert, despite the majority in the seat falling from above 20,000 to just 20 votes. The National Party has signalled it will ask for a recount.   

She wouldn't say if she will back Hipkins. She wanted to talk to her caucus colleagues first.   

Greg O'Connor said he would be backing Hipkins on Tuesday but he wouldn't say if he will support him in the 2026 election.    

"He may not even be here," he said.