Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has called on her fellow
co-leader, Pita Sharples, to step down and hand over the
reins to MP Te Ururoa Flavell, despite Dr Sharples' plans to
stand again in 2014.
And Mr Flavell is considering not standing again in 2014 if
Dr Sharples does not give up the leadership, saying he is not
sure whether he wants to wait around until 2017.
Although Mrs Turia will retire in 2014, Dr Sharples has said
he will stand again.
Mrs Turia will stay on as a minister but is open to handing
over the co-leadership earlier. This week she told Waatea
News Dr Sharples should follow suit to make way for Mr
Flavell - the natural successor for the leadership, who had
been expected to take over by 2014 until Dr Sharples decided
to stay on.
"The leadership role is not about being a minister," Mrs
Turia said. "Being the leader of a political movement is
something quite different. There is absolutely nothing
stopping Pita from continuing to be the minister."
Asked if Dr Sharples' decision affected his own plans for
2014, Mr Flavell said he was "considering my options."
"If Pete is standing again, he will be in for another three
years. That doesn't provide us with succession planning,
because I hadn't planned on making Parliament a career at
all. So I'm just considering it."
Mr Flavell indicated he was unwilling to wait until 2017
because he had never intended to be a career politician. He
was also concerned he would be seen as too much of an old
face to take over beyond 2014.
He has previously said he will not directly challenge Dr
Sharples and will seek the leadership only if Dr Sharples
steps down voluntarily.
He said he expected to decide by April next year, when the
Maori Party candidate nominations were due.
Mr Flavell, 57, has been MP for Waiariki since 2005 - the
Maori Party's first election.
Yesterday, Dr Sharples acknowledged the leadership was under
discussion - including whether the party would break from its
current structure of a male and female leader and whether it
should stagger the leadership handover.
"All members of the Maori Party, including Tariana, have
their own views on what this should look like, but ultimately
any decisions will be worked out amongst the collective."
It is not the first time Dr Sharples has faced pressure to
step down for Mr Flavell. In the lead-up to the regular
leadership vote after the 2011 election, party president Pem
Bird and Mrs Turia said the party had to address its
succession before 2014 and indicated it was time for Mr
Flavell to step up. Dr Sharples and Mrs Turia were
reappointed for three years in December 2011.