Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Ex-MP Ron Mark weighs chance to lead NZ First against work for tribe

Ron Mark
Ron Mark

Former New Zealand First MP Ron Mark has confirmed he is considering the offer of what the Herald understands is a high place on the party's list that would be likely to take him back into Parliament but says his commitment to his iwi may trump political ambition.

The Herald understands Mr Mark is being courted both as a list candidate and as a potential successor to leader Winston Peters, in part because of his good relationship with National as the two parties consider a potential post-election deal.

Speculation that Mr Marks, who is still a member, may return to active involvement in NZ First was fired by his appearance at the recent annual conference in Auckland.

Sources subsequently told the Herald he is being pursued as a list candidate and potential future leader.

"A lot of people have been asking me for a long time," he told the Herald last night.

Last election I turned Winston down. I said 'thanks but no thanks'."

In terms of this year's election, "it is not a done deal", he said.

"I have not decided. I have not made up my mind because there are a whole lot of negatives. It's a big decision, I'm not committed either way."

It was "fair to say that a lot of people are talking to me to go back".

"A lot of them wanted me to go back with National."

Mr Mark said that he was "very, very comfortable" with his working relationship with National and the fact Health Minister Tony Ryall had appointed him to two district health boards was "a hell of compliment".

Asked about the attractiveness of returning to Parliament as Mr Peters' likely successor, he said: "There's ups and downs with all of that, too."

It had been a challenge to establish himself after he left Parliament because he believed ex-MPs were tarnished by their political history.

However, he was now lead Treaty negotiator for Ngati Kahungungu ki Wairarapa and was serving on two district health boards as well as being Carterton Mayor. He would not give up those roles lightly.

"Currently I work very well with the current Government and I have good relationships with Labour. To get this Treaty settlement through at the level I want I cannot afford to undermine those relationships and I'm doing this for my iwi."

Mr Peters was not available for comment last night.

- NZ Herald

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