Tariana Turia will stay on after the election as Maori Party co-leader if no women from the party are elected to Parliament, she says.
The MP and her co-leader Pita Sharples are both retiring from Parliament at the election and gave their valedictory speeches in the House on Thursday evening.
Mrs Turia said she wanted to stay engaged with the party and if none of its women candidates were elected, consideration would be given to having a female co-leader outside Parliament.
"I'm quite keen to stay for a little while to do that role. I think that as we go forward it's helpful to have the experience of somebody and I think that we need to look at how we grow and develop those who can pick up on those roles."
She said she would like to be there to help the party if it goes into negotiations to form a government after the election.
Mrs Turia has been in Parliament since 1996, first as a Labour list MP and then representing Te Tai Hauauru for the Maori Party.
Dr Sharples entered Parliament as the co-leader of the newly formed Maori Party in 2005. Three years later became the Maori Affairs Minister when the party struck a deal with the new National-led government.
At his valedictory speech, he was supported with a waiata from his whanau and a group from his Ngati Kahungunu iwi in the public galleries of Parliament's debating chamber.
The outgoing Tamaki-Makaurau MP confessed that he had no plans whatsoever to be a parliamentarian because he had his work cut out for him in his community.
But he said because of the nationwide outrage over the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the protest march that ensued, he met with Mrs Turia in Auckland and they decided to form a political party which they would both lead.
Tariana Turia then rose to give her final speech after 18 years in Parliament.
Originally a Labour MP, she left over the foreshore and seabed legislation, and told the House she was not sorry she had quit the party. "Ten years on those days are still vividly written in my mind as a milestone moment in the story of our nation," she said.