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Former NZ First MPs reflect on lack of women in caucus, where campaign went wrong

Newshub logo Newshub 21/10/2020 Anna Bracewell-Worrall
a man and a woman looking at the camera: Watch Newshub political reporter Anna Bracewell-Worrall's report. © Newshub Watch Newshub political reporter Anna Bracewell-Worrall's report.

New Zealand First's two female MPs have reflected on the lack of women in their caucus, where the campaign went wrong and what's next for the party after not making it back into Parliament. 

In the candid interview, Tracey Martin - one of NZ First's most respected members - also revealed who she thinks should pick up her work as Minister for Children. 

Martin and her former colleague Jenny Marcroft were the only women in NZ First's caucus of nine and are making a gracious exit from Parliament - but also speaking out about the party's lack of female representation. 

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"It's been a constant bugbear of mine," Martin told Newshub, when asked if NZ First had modernised enough and done enough to represent women. "No, I don't," she said. 

"There's always room for more women," Marcroft added. 

A new list ranking ahead of the election delivered a blow for Marcroft - basically kicking her out of Parliament by dropping her from ninth to an unwinnable 17th. 

"My list ranking, I have actually no answer for you because I haven't been told why I was ranked where I was ranked, so literally no answer," she told Newshub. 

New Zealand First's campaign delivered just 2.7 percent of the vote. It swung from criticising the Government it had just been part of to, by the end of the campaign, trying to emphasise New Zealand's First's co-operation with the popular Labour Party.

"We could have done a better job in actually acknowledging and making sure that every single positive thing this Government did, we were part of," Martin said. 

"Our own messaging maybe should have been stronger and been more positive about our role in the Government," Marcroft added. 

As for whether NZ First sticks it out from outside Parliament, Marcroft said it's up to the party and leader Winston Peters to decide. 

If they don't, Martin says she has no plans to jump on a new waka - but has been approached by other parties to do so. 

"No. I've had this conversation, actually," she revealed. "I've had this conversation with some members in Labour, mind you,  I've had this conversation with some members of National."

As Minister of Children, Martin dealt with one of the most difficult situations of the last term of Government: the uplifting of Māori babies from their mothers. 

"It was a really bad case," she said. "It showed that there was terrible social work practice and that something needed to be done."

Martin sees the solution in more partnerships with iwi to prevent children being taken into care and there's an MP she has in mind to continue that work: one from Waikato-Tainui, an early adopter of the model.

"If I had to pick somebody that I've worked with that I would like to see take that portfolio, I would be selecting Nanaia Mahuta," Martin said. 

It's up to the Prime Minister - but consider that a verbal reference. 

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