A clash last week between Napier Deputy Mayor Faye White and Cabinet Minister Paula Bennett had a sequel in Parliament yesterday, with Ms Bennett denying Labour Party claims amalgamation is being forced on Hawke's Bay.
Mrs White said last week she was "stunned" by what she believed was a put-down by Ms Bennett after she told the Local Government Minister National could lose Napier's seat in Parliament over the local body amalgamation issues.
The exchange occurred at a National Party meeting organised by Napier candidate Wayne Walford.
During question time in Parliament yesterday, one of Labour's local government spokesmen, Su'a William Sio, asked Ms Bennett if Mrs White had told her at the meeting the amalgamation issue could cost National its seat in Napier.
"She certainly did identify that she felt it was an issue in Hawke's Bay," Ms Bennett said.
"I made the point to her that I felt that her anger with the process was actually stopping Hawke's Bay from thinking about the bigger picture of what it is as a region and how it moves forward."
Mr Sio: "Is it not true that Mrs Faye White was trying to warn her and her Government that pursuing a forced amalgamation agenda for local government would lead to National losing the Napier seat to Labour's Mr Stuart Nash?"
Ms Bennett: "I reject completely that there is any forced amalgamation for Hawke's Bay.
"It is a process where it will certainly see itself voting for what it wants for the region. I also reject that there is any chance that Stuart Nash will take the seat."
Mrs White, a member of National Napier MP Chris Tremain's campaign team for the past two elections, said the message she was trying to get across to the minister was that Napier voters were concerned about a law change under National that meant local communities could no longer veto amalgamation proposals that were supported by neighbouring areas.
"It's not about amalgamation per se, it's about the democratic right of our people in Napier to have a say rather than being told by an outside community that we should amalgamate. It's about democracy, not amalgamation."
The Local Government Commission is currently considering a proposal to merge Hawke's Bay's five local authorities into a single region-wide council.