Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he discussed the Speaker's job with the Maori Party and told them MP Tau Henare was not his top choice before they withdrew their support for the MP.

Mr Henare yesterday confirmed he his bid to become Speaker was over and made his displeasure with the Maori Party clear - saying it had lacked "the balls" to stick to its promise to support him and had buckling to the will of Mr Key.

Mr Key said while he appreciated Mr Henare's "enthusiasm'," he had told the Maori Party the Government would be putting up its own nomination when the time came - expected to be early next year after Lockwood Smith is appointed as the High Commissioner in London.

Although it was not a requirement for the Maori Party to vote with National on the Speaker, he said it was his expectation that they would do so.


"Like a marriage, it's not necessarily what is written in the actual contract or marriage document, it's what you do for one another because you support each other."

Mr Henare said there was nothing in the confidence and supply agreement or in Parliament's rules that said the Maori Party had to vote for the Government's choice for Speaker.

"I think their own fear got to them, that they were going against the Government."

The Maori Party co-leaders refused to comment about the matter yesterday, but Mr Henare said he was "gobsmacked" by the decision. He also continued his attack later on Twitter, describing the Maori Party as "cowards," "weak" and "scared."

Mr Key said several other people were also interested who had not been as public about it.

"I've indicated that in the range of people [interested in it] he is not necessarily my number one choice. It doesn't mean he's not good for the job, it just means I'm spoiled for choice with good candidates."

Mr Key said the Government was yet to decide who to nominate - although the front runners are widely understood to be David Carter and Maurice Williamson.

Labour leader David Shearer said his favourite of the contenders so far was Maurice Williamson: "he's been in Parliament a long time, he's got a good sense of humour, he's quick on his feet, I think he would be fair."


Mr Williamson would not comment yesterday. Mr Carter is the favourite for the job - partly because he is in Cabinet and if he was made Speaker, it would open up a gap for Nick Smith to return.

Mr Carter said yesterday it would be an honour to be the Speaker, but would not say whether he would prefer to stay as a minister.