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PM Thinks MP's Wife May Be Behind Wira Gardiner Non-Election

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 3 NZPA - Sir Wira Gardiner may have missed out on the National Party presidency because his wife is an MP, Prime Minister John Key suggested this morning.

By not allowing Sir Wira on the board the National Party membership blocked him becoming president.

Instead of a president being elected directly from the general membership, the membership now votes in an executive board and, in turn, the board elects one of its own to the presidency.

The board is made up of Prime Minister John Key, one caucus representative, the party's general manager and seven elected members.

Peter Goodfellow was elected president yesterday, replacing the outgoing Judy Kirk.

Mr Key said he understood some party members were concerned that Sir Wira's wife Hekia Parata was an MP.

"I think Wira is a very, very, talented individual but inevitably there are always going to be concerns, and issues and other perspectives that delegates will have," he told NewstalkZB.

Having Ms Parata in the caucus might raise concerns of a conflict of interest, he said.

Sir Wira still had a lot to offer the party, Mr Key said. He did not think race was a factor.

Sir Wira has served as lieutenant colonel in the army, and helped set up the Maori Development Ministry and the Waitangi Tribunal.

He parted ways with the National Party in 2005 when then leader Don Brash launched his Iwi/Kiwi campaign, but later returned to the party with Ms Parata.

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