7 Nov 2023

Labour MPs express confidence in Hipkins ahead of leadership vote

11:13 am on 7 November 2023
Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins faces a confidence vote at Tuesday's Labour Party caucus meeting. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Labour MPs expressed support for Chris Hipkins' leadership as they arrived for their first caucus meeting since confirmation of the election result.

Hipkins will face a confidence vote at Tuesday's meeting and is expected to win the necessary support to stay on as leader.

The party's rules require the caucus to endorse its leader within three months of every election, with 60 percent of the MPs plus one required to survive.

Arriving at the Upper Hutt meeting Tuesday morning, longtime MP Phil Twyford said he would be surprised if Hipkins was not endorsed by the caucus.

"Chris has done a great job for us and I'm very supportive of him... he's a talented and experienced politician. We're lucky to have him," Twyford said.

"It was a tough election for us. There were a lot of things that we were up against... Chris is an extremely capable and good man and he put his all into it."

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File photo. Longtime MP Phil Twyford said Hipkins had done a great job. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Many MPs told reporters Hipkins deserved more time in the role, though most declined to say whether that extended right up to the next election.

Senior MP David Parker told reporters he had no intention of challenging for the leadership and would "not [be] commenting any further".

Parker quit as revenue minister in the lead-up to the election over disagreements around Labour's tax policy, notably Hipkins' decision to rule out a capital gains and wealth tax.

Mana MP Barbara Edmonds said Hipkins had her support as captain. Asked whether she might throw her hat in the ring to be leader, Edmonds replied, "hell no".

Rachel Boyack told media Hipkins had been "an excellent prime minister" and Jo Luxton said he had done "a great job in the time that he had".

"He only had a really short runway. He hasn't had that full three-year opportunity," Luxton said.

Minister Peeni Henare.

Senior Māori MP Peeni Henare also expressed support for Hipkins. Photo: RNZ // Angus Dreaver

Senior Māori MP Peeni Henare also swung in behind Hipkins: "He did a great job through the election and now we've just got to sit down and get on with it."

In the tightest electorate result this year, Henare was turfed out of Tāmaki Makaurau by Te Pāti Māori's Takutai Moana Kemp by a margin of just four votes.

Henare said he intended to request a recount: "Four votes is too close to call."

In another surprise result, Rino Tirikatene was defeated in Te Tai Tonga by Te Pāti Māori's Tākuta Ferris. Tirikatene said there had been a big move away from Labour candidates in the Māori electorates.

"I carry my fair share of that, but look, we're adjusting to new roles now and looking forward to... doing my utmost to challenge the government. No one likes to lose, but that's just a part of the reality of politics."

Adrian Rurawhe after the Labour Party caucus meeting on 17 October 2023.

File photo. Outgoing Speaker Adrian Rurawhe said Hipkins deserved "another shot". Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Outgoing Speaker Adrian Rurawhe said Labour needed to consider the message Māori voters had sent the party and how best to respond.

"They wanted a Labour government because they party-voted Labour, but they wanted a Te Pāti Māori voice within that government."

Rurawhe said he would love to see Hipkins stay on as leader and re-elected as prime minister in 2026.

"We haven't seen the best of him and he deserves another shot."

Labour's two newcomers also threw their backing behind Hipkins. Ikaroa-Rāwhiti's Cushla Tangaere-Manuel said, "Chippy has done a really good job as our leader so far, he's had a very short run-in."

And Christchurch East's Reuben Davidson said Hipkins had done "an excellent job of leading us".

"We're at a point now where we need to get on with the job of being a strong opposition. Chris has definitely got the experience to be able to lead us through that."

Hipkins was expected to speak to media early this afternoon following the leadership vote.

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