14 Oct 2022

National MP Barbara Kuriger resigns from portfolios over 'significant conflict of interest'

1:58 pm on 14 October 2022
National MP for Taranaki-King Country, Barbara Kuriger listens to a submission to the Health Committee on a petition to permit medically-assisted dying.

National MP for Taranaki-King Country, Barbara Kuriger. Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has confirmed Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger has resigned her portfolios of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety over a "personal dispute" with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

In a statement, Luxon said he was aware Kuriger and her family were involved in the dispute.

"I discussed this with Ms Kuriger and she accepts that this is a significant conflict of interest and the failure to recognise it and to take steps to manage this conflict has been a serious lapse of judgement," he said.

"On this basis, Ms Kuriger felt it appropriate to resign from her portfolios."

National Party leader Christopher Luxon reading a statement about outgoing Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger in Rolleston on 14 October, 2022.

National's leader Christopher Luxon reads a statement regarding the resignation of MP Barbara Kuriger from her portfolios. Photo: RNZ / Adam Burns

Kuriger resigned last night.

Her son was charged with animal cruelty offences in relation to a herd of cattle who were lame and suffering white line disease in 2016 and 2017.

He was convicted in 2020, and Kuriger raised concerns at the time about how the investigation was handled.

In a statement today, she said she accepted the conflict should have been recognised sooner, but she worked to keep it separate from her work.

"This has created a blurred line with my portfolio responsibilities and in order to continue to support my family, I am stepping aside," she said.

"Although the dispute is, for me, a personal matter which I have endeavoured at all times to keep separate from my professional role, I accept there has been a conflict of interest which I should have recognised sooner, and managed."

She said she would not be commenting further while the dispute was ongoing.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller will become acting spokesperson for Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety.

Luxon said he still intended to undertake a wider reshuffle in the coming months.