Labour's Tukituki candidate, Anna Lorck, says she won't delete a 2011 tweet in which she called David Cunliffe, now her party's leader, a "bully".
The tweet, posted on December 6, 2011, says: "Can't wait till Cunliff [sic] turns up in HB ... we haven't forgotten he sacked our DHB ... he's no leader, he's a bully."
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It refers to the fallout of Mr Cunliffe's February 2008 decision, when he was Minister of Health, to sack the board of the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.
Ms Lorck's PR and marketing company, Attn!, worked with members of the sacked DHB board, advising them on public relations issues at the time of the sacking.
Yesterday she defended her previous stance.
"Everyone knows I was against the sacking, and as a person dedicated to my region I took Labour's decision very hard and I protested for quite some time."
"What I tweeted shows that I'm prepared to front up and speak out for the people I represent and work for. I think that's what the people of Tukituki expect, want and deserve in an MP," she said.
"At the first opportunity when I finally met David, I talked to him about the sacking. He listened, gave me his time and we agreed to move on. David Cunliffe follows me [on Twitter], he knows what's on my Twitter feed and is relaxed about it."
Ms Lorck's political opponent, Tukituki National MP Craig Foss, said he had been aware of the tweet for some time.
"They're all public record. That's why you have to be careful about what you say in public. I knew her sentiments then and I'd be genuinely surprised if they've actually changed," he said.
"I certainly saw that evidence of bullying when our DHB was sacked. That was a very low point in Government and regional relations at the time."
David Cunliffe's media director, Simon Cunliffe, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The chairman of Labour's Tukituki electorate committee, Peter Egerton, said he had previously discussed the tweet with Ms Lorck and his advice had been not to delete it.
"Everybody has history. We learn from it and move on. What really matters is what we're going to do in the future,"
DHB chairman Kevin Atkinson, who was also chairman at the time Mr Cunliffe sacked the board, said Ms Lorck was "very close to what we were doing ... It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that Anna would make those comments.
"Anna's the sort of person who speaks her mind. Whether that will help her in politics or not, time will only tell.
"She was as sincere as the rest of the community but she wasn't representing anything other than the community's view at the time."
Mr Atkinson said he did not think Ms Lorck's tweet was politically motivated.
"It would have reflected 99 per cent of the population's view at the time. I think it's Cunliffe that's got to get over it rather than her, to be quite honest."
Other tweets From Anna Lorck:
August 31, 2011 - "Labour looked like they hired a rent-a-crowd to protest outside PM public meeting in Napier tonight. #provemewrong"
September 1, 2011 - "#5 child just told me that John Key is her man! Big talk for a 2yrs. Must have heard her mother and friends talking politics."