Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Henare loses Maori Party support for Speaker job

Tau Henare.
Tau Henare.

National MP Tau Henare has indicated he has given up on the race to be the next Speaker, claiming the "scaredy cats" Maori Party had broken a promise to support his bid.

Mr Henare announced he intended to run for the Speaker's position on Twitter in September - and yesterday he again turned to Twitter to send a signal he was about to end his campaign.

The position is expected to come up in February after Lockwood Smith becomes High Commissioner in London. Mr Henare was considered the underdog to replace him - Prime Minister John Key has been in talks with Maurice Williamson and David Carter for the job.

However, Mr Henare was optimistic and had lobbied hard until yesterday when he tweeted that the Maori Party had now reneged on an undertaking to support him, which he said was critical to his decision to run in the first place.

"All I can say is maybe someone should start another Maori Party, maybe one that doesn't renege on deals.

Scaredy cats," he tweeted.

He said he had that agreement in writing "and they still turned tail".

When contacted, he would not say whether it meant the end to his campaign but said he would make his position clear on Tuesday.

Maori Party co leader Tariana Turia said the party had spoken to Mr Henare very early on before they knew the Government preferred someone else and believed the Government should choose the Speaker.

Of Mr Henare's suggestion someone start another Maori party, she said it was a good idea: "He might like to revive the Mauri Pacific Party."

Although she and Dr Sharples had intended to meet with Mr Henare to discuss it, his tweets meant that was now unlikely.

The Speaker is voted on by Parliament and it is understood Henare was trying to persuade some of National's caucus that they did not need to vote along party lines to try to make up the numbers he needed.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said Labour had not yet decided who it would support for Speaker. Asked whether he had given any undertaking to Mr Henare, he said "I told him if we made a difference to the numbers, I'd take it to caucus".

On Twitter, Mr Mallard had another job suggestion for Mr Henare, observing Mr Henare's old job was up for grabs again - as deputy leader of NZ First.

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