National Leader Todd Muller has admitted his deputy leader Nikki Kaye made "an error" when she said a non-Māori MP was "obviously Ngāti Porou".

Muller was again pressed on the issue of Māori representation within his shadow Cabinet this morning, during his morning media rounds.

There are no Māori MPs on his front bench and only a handful in the wider shadow Cabinet.

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This has drawn criticism, including from the governing Labour Party, on National's lack of racial diversity.

The issue blew up further when, in defending the caucus' diversity, Kaye said Goldsmith was Māori.

Goldsmith clarified that this was not, in fact, the case.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Muller said the Goldsmith gaff "was an error".

He said Kaye "wasn't 100 per cent clear on his whakapapa [ancestry]".

Muller said that "mistakes happen".

Todd Muller says his deputy Nikki Kaye made an error in calling Paul Goldsmith Māori. Photo / Audrey Young
Todd Muller says his deputy Nikki Kaye made an error in calling Paul Goldsmith Māori. Photo / Audrey Young

Meanwhile, he told the AM Show that the success of Māoridom was "absolutely critical" and it underpins the success of the whole country.

He defended National's record on Māori issues over the years.

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"National has a fantastic record over the years as being the party that actually delivers outcomes for Māori."

This, he said, includes beginning the Treaty settlement processes and concluding them, Whānau Ora and Partnership Schools.

"The National Party actually delivers for Māori."

This comes after Māori National MP Jo Hayes, who was pushed down the Cabinet rankings, questioned her party's Māori representation in the shadow Cabinet.

"This is not good," she told Radio Waatea.

"We need to remedy this or you [Muller] need to front it and take it head on and say why."

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She said Muller needed to give a better explanation than the one he had given thus far.

Speaking to RNZ, Muller said he had had a "great chat" with Hayes last night.

He added that they talked about how the party has a "tremendous tradition" of delivery and results for Māori.

He said she was "passionate" and had a view – which was talked about last night.

Muller would not go into detail about what was said.