Embattled former Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox is eyeing a return to Parliament in 2023, but says she's focused on her current cashflow problems at present.
Fox, whose consultancy company was liquidated last week, estimates she owes around $156,000 to creditors but says she's determined everyone will be paid back.
Her business problems prompted her to offer her resignation as co-leader of the Māori Party last week, an offer that was accepted by the party this week as more stories emerged of businesses being left out of pocket by Marama Fox Consultancy Group Tapui.
Fox set up the business, aimed at building affordable homes for homeless and low-income families, after she and fellow co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell lost their seats in Parliament at the last election.
"Last week when we weren't able to hold off liquidation any longer in regards to my company, I immediately rang and offered my resignation.
"I worked really hard to promote the Māori Party, to keep it relevant, and I don't want the Māori Party brand to be tainted by my personal business affairs, so I thought it was prudent to do that, Fox told the Herald today.
"I would have done anything for our party, to stay, but until these affairs are settled I think it's best that I allow the party to continue in their process and I concentrate on these things."
Fox said she loved politics and it was crucial to include a Māori perspective in all parts of policy.
"That was always my goal, to try to highlight that, on behalf of my party and on behalf of my people."
Fox will not be contesting the 2020 election but she would consider another tilt in 2023.
"I want to concentrate on delivering affordable housing and we still have an opportunity to do that. It just hasn't come fast enough to stave off this process.
"There are other things I want to do, like growing political literacy amongst our young and keeping a political commentary going so the affairs of Māoridom are equal the affairs of the whole country."
Fox's departure leaves the Māori party without any leaders after Flavell stepped down in July.
President Che Wilson told RNZ yesterday the party would be contacting a range of people about the leadership position. The party holds its AGM next month.
Fox, who remains a member of the party, said she would like to see co-vice president Kapua Smith step up.
"I think Kapua Smith would be a fantastic leader. She's young, she's energetic. She understands the position of the nation, where we fit in with that."
Fox, who has moved from Masterton where her family is, to Hamilton, said she believed her company owed $156,000 to creditors.
"I want to be able to clear it, and we're close to being able to do that. I, in no way, want to declare bankruptcy. I want to be make sure everybody is paid. I'm so sorry this has caused pain and hurt to anybody. I have been trying and trying to make sure we get these bills paid, and will continue to do that."
Fox has been in talks with liquidator Reynolds and Associates, which will issue its report within the month.
Rotorua travel broker Amy Turuta is owed $39,165.57; Ohynx IT in Masterton is owed $33,596.22 ; Masterton glazier Simon O'Donoghue is owed $2141.33 and it has been reported that she also owes her commercial landlord $15,000 in unpaid rent and eviction costs.
It has been a tumultuous year for Fox. Following a stint on Dancing with the Stars, Fox revealed in July that she and Ben, her husband of 29 years, had split and she had moved out of the family home.