Meka Whaitiri has been removed from her ministerial responsibilities, effective immediately, following her defection to the Maori Party.
A Labour MP for 10 years, Ms Meka Whaitiri confirmed her switch to the Maori Party at Waipatu marae in Hastings this morning.
Acting Prime Minister, Carmel Sepuloni said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins had made the decision to remove Ms Whaitiri from her ministerial duties following confirmation of her resignation from the Labour Party.
“As Acting Prime Minister, I have advised the Administrator of the Government to give effect to that decision this morning,” said Ms Sepuloni.
“Obviously we’re disappointed in Meka Whaitiri’s decision. But we are moving on.”
She said decisions on the permanent allocation of the departing minister’s portfolios will be made in the next week.
“Until then, Kieran McAnulty will be the Acting Hawkes Bay Lead Minister for Cyclone Recovery, Ayesha Verrall will be the Acting Minister for Food Safety, Peeni Henare will be the Acting Minister for Veterans, and Damien O’Connor will be the Acting Minister of Customs. All Associate Portfolios will return to the lead Portfolio Minister.
“Labour is proud of our track record for Māori. We’ve established the Māori Health Authority/Te Aka Whai Ora, boosted Whānau Ora funding to historic levels, created the Matariki public holiday, and introduced New Zealand history in schools.
“The cost of living and cyclone recovery are matters that affect all New Zealanders, including Māori.
“They and the people of Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti who are recovering and rebuilding from the damage of Cyclone Gabrielle remain our strong focus as we continue to support Kiwis through globally turbulent times,” Ms Sepuloni said.