Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta has blasted former colleague John Tamihere as a sexist "failed politician" for alleging she is only a leadership candidate because she is a woman and Maori.
Mr Tamihere has called potential Labour leader David Cunliffe's decision to pick Ms Mahuta as his running mate "smarmy" and typical.
''The only thing she's lacking is she doesn't have a limp. Then he would have got the disabled [vote] too. That's the truth of it and that's the way it smacked as soon as I saw it.''
Ms Mahuta said those comments smacked of sexism.
"John's comments show male parochialism is alive and well in Maoridom... If John Tamihere thinks that Maori women should be in the home cooking kai, then he's wrong.
"I would advise him to stick to his knitting. He's a failed politician who is never making it back in, and it's a bit rich for him to advise Labour on its leadership team."
Mr Tamihere's thoughts on politics had been off the mark since he was ejected from parliament at the 2005 general election, Ms Mahuta said.
He was likely trying to destabilise Mr Cunliffe's team in an effort to "covertly" promote Shane Jones as a leadership candidate, she said
"I wouldn't be surprised if that was his motivation. All I can say is that I've been in politics longer than he has."
Mr Tamihere has touted Mr Jones as a more competent and confident campaigner than Ms Mahuta.
But Mr Jones has struggled to regain his standing within Labour since it was revealed he ordered porn to his hotel room using his ministerial credit card.
He was dubbed the "Minister for Porn" amid controversy over the incident.
Ms Mahuta defended her Hauraki Waikato electorate seat at the general election on Saturday.
She elected to spend time on the backbenches when Labour shuffled its list last year, after the birth of her son.