The Labour Party owes it to its voters to elect a Maori leader or deputy leader, it has been claimed.
Last weekend's election saw Labour win six of the seven Maori electorates, and former MP Tau Henare said the party now owes it to those voters to promote a Maori politician to a senior position.
"The Maori voters on the weekend saved the Labour Party's backside and you would expect at least the deputy leader to be a Maori," he told TV3's The Nation this morning.
Mr Henare tipped Labour's Maori affairs spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta as someone who could take up the deputy leader position.
"I think she's been there for a long time, she's had service, she's a very, very capable person," he said.
"The deputy leader's job is not the same as the leader, and I think that Nanaia has the wherewithal to put people together."
However, former party president Mike Williams said any future leadership team should be democratically elected.
"They owe it to themselves to go through a democratic process and if a significant Maori bubbles to the top then so be it," he told the programme.
"I think they've got some very talented people there. I was a personal supporter of Kelvin Davis. I was delighted that he won the seat back and got into Parliament."
Meanwhile, former Labour Party president Jim Anderton said it was not just a matter of the party's leadership which lost it the election.
"The leader has to take responsibility for what happened on the chin, that's true, and I think David not doing that on election night probably didn't help much," he said.
"But in truth, Labour's problems are not just changing the leader -- if they were, God, we've had so many leaders, there's hardly anyone left who hasn't been the leader.
"I think you have to settle this properly, and that means the whole of the party has to stare hard in the mirror and look at itself, and have a presence in real New Zealand for the rest of the next three years and build a base. We had 100,000 members when I was president, at the moment I'd be generous to say they've probably got less than 10 [thousand]."
The Party needed to be better organised, he said, and needed to get in touch with the public.
"Labour won't recover from this unless they have a presence on the ground, everywhere, and a contact with the majority of New Zealanders that's real, and at the moment the party organisation's not up to that."
The comments came as the Labour Party's ruling council prepared to meet in Auckland today to discuss the party's future.