Te Ururoa Flavell has been selected as Maori Party's male co-leader to replace Pita Sharples, and says he will turn down the chance to take up ministerial posts to allow him to ready the party for the 2014 election.
An emotional Flavell paid a tribute to the party's outgoing President, Pem Bird, and Dr Sharples, who announced he would stand down to make room for Mr Flavell a fortnight ago.
Mr Flavell said he was humbled and excited by the opportunity. Dr Sharples had offered to give up some of his ministerial posts for Mr Flavell, but Mr Flavell said he would devote his efforts now to readying the party for a campaign rather than taking up ministerial roles. He hastened to add it was not a permanent stance:
"But I would like very much to be a minister in whatever Government is formed after 2014."
He said the Maori Party learned lessons from past elections, and needed to maintain the trust voters had in it, as well as build up its organisation in the electorates.
"There's so much to do, there's very little time."
He said he had always played a back seat role in the party, but that did not mean it was not important.
"I want you to know I'm up for this. I will give it my all. There are times in our life eye. You fall in the zone, you've got confidence that you're read. I tell you today. I'm there."
He said the Maori Party had never deviated from its goal of pushing Maori rights, and both Dr Sharples and Tariana Turia had ensured that. He said both would be instrumental figures in history.
"They've been my teachers. We've had our ups and downs. But they will tell you I love them both. They have led us this far on our journey. We are fortunate they will continue to walk with us. For me, I have a pretty simple approach to the role of being co-leader. I'm your servant."
The selection was run by Naida Glavish, her first job as the newly elected Party President.
Flavell also congratulated Glavish's rival for the job, George Ngatai, saying he had given an impressive speech which left them all something to think about.