Labour’s number two Kelvin Davis is getting strong backing for the job of Deputy Prime Minister, even from those in other political parties.
The Māori Party’s Rawiri Waititi, who has very likely secured the party’s comeback seat in Parliament, says he would expect “nothing less” than for Davis to be appointed Deputy Prime Minister.
Speaking of the wider Labour caucus, he says Māoridom will be expecting nothing less than for those MPs to get senior ministerial roles inside Cabinet.
“As te iwi Māori, they brought a huge contribution to the whole make-up of Labour and I commend them for that,” he said.
“It is testament to the hard work they put in.”
Davis wouldn’t be drawn to an answer when asked about whether he’s pushing for the deputy PM role.
“Those decisions are yet to be made,” he told the Herald today.
“Ultimately, the Prime Minister will make the call. Her and I will have a discussion, but I’m not going to make a call or announcement right now.”
Davis said the party was feeling “pretty upbeat” and proud after its landslide win.
Davis has his eyes on retaining the Corrections portfolio.
“I’d love to, if the Prime Minister allows it, to be the Minister of Corrections. We’ve got work to do still to improve outcomes in the justice sector for Māori. Māori education is still my big passion and the reason I entered politics.”
Another win for Labour is the high number of Māori MPs – 15.
Davis says to have won so many Māori seats is “absolutely fantastic”.
“It just shows that Māori have a voice in the Labour Party, with 15 Māori MPs representing the interests and needs of Māoridom,” he says.
“It’s wonderful to see the likes of Shanan Halbert win a general seat, as well as Jo Luxton, Kiritapu Allan, and Arena Williams. We’re very proud of our efforts.”
Davis says Labour’s landslide win shows that people are “sick of the negative and nasty politics”.
“They like what the Labour party are offering; kindness, compassion, seeing those attributes as strength. I think the country is just looking for something different to what we’ve experienced over the previous decades.”
Davis says he’d like to see the Government “up the number of partnerships” with Māori groups.
“With hapū, with iwi, to hear what their aspirations are, and to pull the lever as a Government and make those aspirations a reality.”
He also has plans lined up to support kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and the wānanga.
Oranga Tamariki, housing and meth are also key issues.
“The cost of living, putting bread and butter on people’s tables. We do have a recovery plan. We’ve already started rolling it out. People saw that we are a strong and stable Government and that we have a plan, and that’s really a big part of the reason why we had such an emphatic victory on Saturday.”
On his election night speech to introduce Jacinda Ardern – which turned out to be a rhyming speech attacking the National Party – Davis said he was “playing to the audience”.
“As I’ve said, all the material was provided by the National Party. I was simply just holding a mirror up to everything that they had said, and their words and actions of the last six months.”
Davis won the Te Tai Tokerau seat from Hone Harawira in 2014 and kept the seat this election in a battle against Māori Party candidate Mariameno Kapa-Kingi.
Former Labour Māori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels says he expected Kelvin Davis to become deputy Prime Minister, making the current Te Tai Tokerau MP the first Māori electorate representative to hold the role.
“I think this is an unprecedented mandate for Māori. I’ve never seen anything like it and I would expect Kelvin to be appointed the role.”
Samuels, who was a Labour MP from 1996 to 2008 and held the Te Tai Tokerau seat for two terms, said with 15 Māori MPs he had never seen so much political representation in a single party for Māori.
He said the election had provided an “unprecedented opportunity to really deliver for Māori”.
“Clearly Māoridom will be expecting a lot from them.”
With Winston Peters and NZ First gone, Samuels said it would allow the Government to tackle some of the more controversial issues, including Māori rights to water, Ihumātao, and the Ngāpuhi claim.
Former Labour MP Georgina Beyer said Grant Robertson could be considered for the job and the Prime Minister had choices.
“There are other people [to choose from]. Māori might think he’s earned the spot, that may well be the case.”
Beyer says Davis’ experience as occasional acting Prime Minister would be an advantage.
The University of Auckland’s Dr Lara Greaves says snubbing Davis for the job of Deputy Prime Minister would be an “incredibly disrespectful” move to Māori and “wouldn’t be logical”.
“That would be a strange move. It would be incredibly disrespectful to Kelvin Davis and the Māori caucus to move [him] out of that [number two] position and promote Grant Robertson.”
Greaves says the key indicator he should be judged on for the job is how he’s done in his seat.
“He has done well in that seat.”
Political commentator Will Workman said the role of deputy PM could be shared by two MPs.
“Perhaps co-deputies to reflect the priorities of Covid recovery and Tiriti partnership going forward; Kelvin Davis and Robertson equally. Why can’t there be two?”
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