With Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri speaking out for the first time about her demotion as a minister and a post-budget cabinet reshuffle expected, is Whaitiri vying to be reinstated?
It’s no secret Whaitiri wants back in as a minister, "I still believe I have things to offer to this government," she says.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stopped short of confirming a Minister Whaitiri comeback.
"I've made no decisions when it comes to posts and reshuffle appointments."
Whaitiri, who was demoted last year following an incident between herself and a staffer in Gisborne, spoke candidly about the assault claims for the first time on Tūranga FM last Friday. She maintains her innocence.
"The people were asking and I've said all I want to say about it, it’s about moving forward.”
Te Ao Māori News asked Ardern what she thought about Whaitiri further refuting the assault claims in the interview.
"What's important is that the now-MP acknowledges where there are issues she needs to work on and there were elements of that in the interview, but I think it serves no one to relitigate the event itself," says Ardern.
Women currently hold eight of 26 roles on the Executive Council, which includes ministers inside and outside cabinet, following the demotion of Whaitiri and former Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Clare Curran.
National’s Jo Hayes says it would show “poor leadership” if Whaitiri was to be reinstated.
"The prime minister has made a decision and it should just stay like that."
National’s deputy leader Paula Bennet agrees, "I would have questions about promoting her back into the cabinet."
Whaitiri and the PM met this morning, a check-in Whaitiri says is to ensure she continues to work on matters Ardern has asked her to address.