The Maori Party says it has a number of capable women who can replace departing co-leader Tariana Turia and it is not worried about the absence of a high-profile candidate.
The contest to find a replacement for Mrs Turia's Te Tai Hauauru seat began this week as the party named six candidates. It gave a glimpse of some of the potential candidates to take over the woman's co-leadership position, which will be decided next year.
The candidates for the electorate seat are Frana Chase, Rahui Katene, James Makowharemahihi, Christopher McKenzie, Amokura Panoho and Pakake Winiata.
Maori Party vice president Ken Mair said any of the candidates for the electorate seat would serve the party well.
"It is about more than profile. Certainly Tariana leaves behind a wonderful legacy in terms of her seat ... but the important thing from our point of view is quality and substance as well."
Mr Mair said the party was not looking for someone to fill Mrs Turia's shoes, but for a candidate who could "carve a new path".
Dr Sharples was replaced as co-leader by Te Ururoa Flavell in July but there is not yet a favourite for Mrs Turia's co-leadership position.
Mr Mair said he believed that the party was capable of finding another leader of the calibre of Mrs Turia, who has spent 18 years in Parliament and co-founded the Maori Party.
"There's no doubt in my mind that there are many Maori women candidates around the country who are keen to stand, and I don't think that'll be an issue."
Three of the people competing to represent the Maori Party in Te Tai Hauauru were women. Of these candidates, Ms Katene had the highest profile. She held the Te Tai Tonga seat for a term before losing it to Labour's Rino Tirakatene in 2011, and she was now deputy chair for the New Zealand Maori Council.
Party members met in at Whangaehu Marae in Whanganui on Sunday to hear speeches by the six candidates and cast their vote. The party's representative will be chosen on December 8.
Mrs Turia has held the seat since 2002, and won 48.3 per cent of the vote in the 2011 election.
Selection for Dr Sharples' seat in Tamaki Makaurau has not yet started.