Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis was moved to tears describing the street he grew up in and the lives of its residents.

Davis, Speaking on TVNZ's Marae programme, took host Miriama Kamo on a tour of Leonard St, Kawakawa, where he grew up.

Davis, who is also Crown Māori Relations Minister and deputy leader of the Labour Party, said he was proud of the role but would stand aside as acting prime minister if someone else was wanted when Jacinda Ardern was unavailable.

"If somebody else came along and they said 'hey, this person, we want them to be the acting leader' I'd say 'yeah, okay, go for it'," he told Marae.


"I want to be a minister. I want to continue to do well in the roles I have but I don't have any ladder I want to climb," he said.

Davis, who is of Ngāpuhi descent, said he was in the role to make a difference for Māori.

Speaking of Leonard St, a run-down cul de sac in Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands where he grew up, he said: "Inequality, poverty ... this street lived it, and it doesn't have to be this way."

He became emotional when asked what he wanted a Māori child to be thinking when they looked at him.

"I want them to be thinking about themselves to be honest, and to think that there shouldn't be any restrictions on what they can achieve in life. You might come from Leonard St, Kawakawa ...," he trailed off.

With tears on his cheeks, Davis said that thinking about all the good people he grew up with, "just life didn't pan out right for them. Leonard St's just a metaphor for all the other Leonard streets across all the other towns in New Zealand."