2 Nov 2020

Kelvin Davis to focus on backbenchers, making 'a difference for Māori'

12:23 pm on 2 November 2020

Kelvin Davis has ruled himself out as deputy prime minister just hours before Jacinda Ardern announces her Cabinet.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis announcing he has decided not to put his hand up for deputy prime minister.

Kelvin Davis says he would like to take responsibility for managing Labour's large caucus, many of whom are new to Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Davis says he told the prime minister he didn't want the job, but would like to stay on as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

"I came into politics for two reasons, one to represent Te Tai Tokerau, and the other, to make a difference for Māori. And that's what I've been doing and I'll continue to do,'' he says.

The caucus of 64 MPs is very big and Davis says that will require some management especially with the backbench and he's happy to take on that role and leave the deputy prime minister role to someone else.

Before the election Ardern and Davis spoke about the deputy prime minister job and she told him it was a decision for him to make alone.

Ardern says Davis indicated ahead of the election he didn't want the role and she told him to wait and see, but he hasn't changed his mind on the matter.

"Obviously Kelvin's made this decision, and it is one he's made. Of course, he still has my full support and full confidence,'' she says.

"And he will have my full support to remain as deputy leader of the Labour Party. However, it's been his choice and his decision, he doesn't want the role of deputy prime minister and that's his call.''

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (R) speaks with MP Kelvin Davis and other senior members of parliament a day after her landslide election win, in Auckland on October 18, 2020.

Kelvin Davis should stay on as the Labour Party's deputy leader, Jacinda Ardern says. Photo: AFP

Ardern says the deputy leader role is more about caring for the caucus and Davis has been doing that job.

Labour MP and co-chair of the Māori caucus Willie Jackson wants as many Māori as possible in Cabinet and the wider executive.

Peeni Henare, who has been vocal about wanting the health portfolio, says Davis's decision was one only he could have made.

"He still has my 100 percent support.''

Andrew Little, who held the Treaty Negotiations portfolio in the last government, says politics is a team sport and it's for the prime minister to look at people's skills and talents.

"That's as much about meeting the needs of Māori and Pasifika and lots of other communities around New Zealand.''

Andrew Little heading into the Labour caucus where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will brief MPs on her ministerial preferences for the new government.

The prime minister will look at matching her new Cabinet with the needs of Māori and Pasifika and other communities, Andrew Little says. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The Labour caucus will discuss the members of Cabinet and the wider executive in its caucus meeting being held now.

Ardern will publicly announce her ministers, including the deputy prime minister, at 1pm.

It's expected senior MP Grant Robertson will be announced as both finance minister and Ardern's deputy.

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