Willie Jackson will not have his placing on Labour's list improved after a meeting of party figures tonight.

Labour's list was meant to be released earlier today but was delayed after an unhappy Jackson flew to Wellington after learning of his position. However it is understood that after a meeting was held tonight Jackson's ranking is unchanged.

The full list will be released tomorrow morning.

Labour leader Andrew Little had told the high-profile broadcaster and former Alliance MP that he would back him for a high placing on the list.

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Former party president Mike Williams has told Radio New Zealand he understands another reason for delay was a concern the highest placed Maori candidate, Willow-Jean Prime, was only at 12 or 15. Prime is the party's Northland candidate.

Labour's six MPs in Maori seats have opted to go off the list and stake their re-election on winning their electorate.

The overall percentage of party vote and number of seats won determines how many candidates are elected from a party's list.

Labour's Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Nick Reed
Labour's Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Nick Reed

Crucially, Labour has committed to having women make up at least 50 per cent of its caucus, and the committee must consider that aim when selecting the list.

It is understood new women candidates will be placed in winnable list positions. They could include Maungakiekie candidate Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Prime and East Coast candidate Kiri Allan.

Little is also keen to rectify the lack of diversity amongst MPs, meaning Raymond Huo, who returned as a list MP after the Mt Albert by-election in February, will be given a winnable placing.

Other current MPs reliant on the list include Foreign Affairs spokesman David Parker and veteran and Speaker aspirant Trevor Mallard. It is understood Mallard will be returned if Labour's party vote matches current polling of around 30 per cent.

Jackson, a former Alliance MP, was considering standing for the Maori Party, but that changed after being approached by Little to stand on Labour's list.

In announcing Jackson's candidacy in February, Little said he would be "backing Willie to have a high list position" and "am confident he will be joining our ranks after this year's election".

Some members and MPs were frustrated that Little's promise of a high list spot for Jackson went against the drive to get more women into Parliament for Labour.

Little is not contesting an electorate and is number one on the list.

On Sunday Labour list MP Sue Moroney announced her retirement from politics, citing her unelectable position on the list. Labour had already confirmed its 71 candidates and Moroney's reaction to her demotion means it will need to hold a new selection in Hamilton West, where she was to stand.

Labour had 27 electorate MPs and five list MPs after the 2014 election.