Labour leader's pint-sized pet joined the family in the Far North this year.

The name of Labour Party leader David Shearer's dog, Tino Rangatiratanga, might seem to better befit the family pet of a Maori Party politician.

But the schnoodle's handle is more about a play on the word tino or "tiny", Shearer says, coupled with the February 6 date his daughter spotted the adorable schnauzer-poodle cross on the internet.

February 6 is Waitangi Day.

"Calling him Tino seemed like a good idea at the time."


And so the affectionate, fluffy Tino has grown to become a firm favourite of his master, despite reservations about having a dog.

"He's a lovely little dog. He's generally well-behaved and he loves swimming."

He has even been known to follow Shearer into the surf until forced back to shore by breaking waves.

Shearer says they had to put Tino in kennels during previous camping holidays, but this year he accompanied them to their new Far North bolthole - a piece of land with a caravan and long drop.

There, he could chase rabbits in the paddock and swim in the nearby stream to his heart's content.

Shearer expects the house dog will have returned to Auckland a few pounds lighter, thanks to a summer holiday filled with non-stop action.