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

Maori Party weighing up leader change

Pita Sharples. Photo / Robert Trathen
Pita Sharples. Photo / Robert Trathen

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples could be replaced by the party's other MP Te Ururoa Flavell within a fortnight as the party moves to address the looming retirements of Dr Sharples and Tariana Turia.

The Maori Party's executive will meet within a fortnight for its post-election meeting where it will discuss its future leadership and when it should replace Mrs Turia and Dr Sharples, who are retiring in 2014.

As the party's only other MP, Mr Flavell is the logical person to replace Dr Sharples and some in the party believe that should happen soon to give Mr Flavell time to build up his profile in the role.

Mr Flavell said it was clear the party had to look at succession "because we know they're both not coming back".

Party vice-president Ken Mair said he would not pre-empt a decision of the executive by speculating on whether Mr Flavell would take over.

The party's constitution required a special general meeting after every election, at which the leadership was always considered.

In the past it had been a formality because both co-leaders had committed to staying on.

"But the reality is that both are retiring, we need a succession plan in place to ensure we are well prepared and we are getting on with that."

Party president Pem Bird earlier said the expectation was for a change by the end of the year. However, it was up to the executive to call it.

Mr Flavell said if he was the leader he would like a ministerial post. "It probably fits one to the other."

Another option is for Mr Flavell to stay out of a ministerial position and instead focus on the leadership.

It would allow him to speak out more openly against National policies than he could as a minister, a role bound by confidentiality requirements.

The party will meet its members over the next week to gauge views on a coalition agreement before deciding whether to sign up with National.

- NZ Herald

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