Cunliffe and Mahuta expected to be demoted from shadow cabinet.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis is set to replace Nanaia Mahuta as Labour's Maori Affairs spokesperson and move up the rankings in Labour leader Andrew Little's reshuffle.

In turn, Ms Mahuta and former leader David Cunliffe are likely to be demoted as Mr Little sets about establishing the shadow cabinet he hopes to get into Government in 2017.

Mr Little and his deputy leader, Annette King, spoke to MPs over the weekend and the changes will be announced this morning.

Mr Little would not reveal details yesterday, but said the grounds on which he made his decisions were "hard work, freshness of ideas, and competence".


Soon after he became Labour leader, Mr Little warned MPs that he would undertake a further reshuffle in a year. Ensuring some balance along lines such as gender and ethnicity was a factor, but not overriding.

"Having now seen caucus members up close and personal for the last 12 months, this is a reflection of the work and effort that's been put in. It's a blueprint for a future cabinet under Labour," he said.

That is expected to bring bad news for Mr Cunliffe, with the clear message there is no place for him in a future Labour cabinet. Ms Mahuta will get a similar message, losing her front-bench placing and her portfolio to Mr Davis.

Mr Cunliffe referred queries to Mr Little. Asked if he intended to stand again in 2017, he said, "I am enjoying representing the people of New Lynn and the challenge of my portfolios."

Understood to be in line for promotions are Auckland-based MP Jacinda Ardern and Christchurch MP Megan Woods, including a move to the front bench for Ms Woods as the party's spokeswoman in Christchurch. She will likely lose the Environment and Climate Change portfolios.

It is likely Mr Davis and Ms Ardern will move up from eighth and ninth into fourth and fifth positions on the front bench. Mr Davis is expected to keep Maori Development and Corrections but give up Police.

No major portfolios are likely to change hands - Mr Little has confirmed Grant Robertson will stay on in Finance and it is expected Ms King will keep Health, Carmel Sepuloni will stay with Social Development and Chris Hipkins with Education.

Trade and Immigration are set to change hands from David Parker and Sue Moroney. It is unclear who will pick up Trade, a critical portfolio as the Trans Pacific Partnership goes through.


Labour has a complex position on the TPP and it is understood Mr Little has steered clear of hardline pro-free traders.

Ms Ardern is expected to keep her Justice, Children and Small Business portfolios.

Phil Twyford has already taken over Auckland Issues from Phil Goff, who gave up the portfolio when he announced he was running for the Super City mayoralty. Mr Twyford is likely to keep Housing but lose Transport to a regional MP - possibly Stuart Nash. Mr Twyford is a contender to pick up Trade.

Ms Mahuta, who stood as Mr Cunliffe's deputy in the past, is likely to be shunted down to make way for newer Maori faces such as Peeni Henare. Jenny Salesa is also in line for a promotion.