8 Apr 2014

Henare adversary pays tribute

3:02 pm on 8 April 2014

The Labour MP who once came to blows with National's Tau Henare said he will miss his former adversary when he steps down.

Mr Henare is retiring from politics at this year's election. He first entered Parliament in 1993 when he won the the Northern Maori seat for New Zealand First and was Maori Affairs Minister in the first MMP government.

Tau Henare announcing his retirement last year.

Tau Henare announcing his retirement last year. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

He lost his seat in the 1999 election but returned to Parliament as a National list MP in 2005.

Mr Henare said he is stepping aside of his own volition, although he expected a low list placing if he stood again.

Labour Party MP Trevor Mallard, who once had a heated argument with Mr Henare outside the debating chamber that turned into a scuffle, said he would miss the National MP.

Mr Mallard said the MP is one of the real characters of Parliament and adds something special to the National Party.

"I think it's regrettable that they chose people of lesser talent to be ministers and I think if they'd treated him properly then he could well have stayed on, and I think they would have been richer for it."

Mr Henare told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme he feels the party is in good shape and he is very privileged to have been a minister.

In some parting words of advice, he said the party should not take anything for granted.

"We're up in the polls and people dance around because we get a lift in each poll and we're polling very, very well," he said.

But anything can happen, and it's MMP don't forget, and all it needs is a cup of tea and you could let somebody in the back door."