National's new deputy leader incorrectly describes Paul Goldsmith as Māori

National's new leadership team incorrectly described their finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith as Māori, after questions about the lack of Māori MPs in their top 12 line-up. 

It was a mistake that drew laughter from ousted deputy leader Paula Bennett.                                                                                   

"The caucus is diverse," new National leader Todd Muller said after revealing the party's revised  rankings yesterday

"We have 55 people coming from huge amount of different experiences, obviously gender, ethnicity, work experience, and I have spread the portfolios and work load right across.

"Including Dan Bidois, as an example, who is on the list and appears to be on the bottom, but I have given him a significant portfolio. For me the numbers are less important than the jobs I've asked them to do.

"If you look at our shadow cabinet there is significant diversity."

Mr Muller spoke about Shane Reti, who is ranked 17, calling him "a tremendous contributor". 

"And Paul Goldsmith is obviously Ngāti Porou," deputy Nikki Kaye said, adding that three women MPs were in the top four positions. 

When asked if Mr Goldsmith was the only Māori MP in his top 12, Mr Muller hesitated and said, "Yes, I think, because I think Paula Bennett is 13". 

"In terms of our front bench, it's the top 14. I have every confidence that the perspectives that need to be brought round the table will be brought."

When asked today about the Mr Goldsmith Māori heritage claim, Ms Bennett said, "Paul? OK, right. 

"The new leadership have chosen their top team and they're the ones who are answerable for it."

However, when asked, Mr Goldsmith said he is not Māori.

"The Goldsmith family have connections with Ngāti Porou. My great-great grandfather had European wives and Māori wives, so I’ve got lots of relatives across Ngāti Porou. I don’t claim to be Māori myself.

"I think they’re just making a broad statement about there’s a wide variety of backgrounds in this party," he said in reference to the leadership team. 

Dr Reti said National had "a strong Māori voice with Jo Hayes, Harete Hipango, Simon [Bridges] and Paula".

"I think that's in the eye of the beholder. I think there is diversity there, diversity of experience, diversity of gender certainly... so no, I think we can be pleased. It's a work in progress."

Ms Bennett was also asked if it was her decision to step down as National Party campaign chair, answering, "no, not at all". 

"I love campaigning and had so much of the organisation done. It's a role I love, but I roll with the punches around here.

"Friday was a pretty brutal day. I'm just getting on with it. I'm totally backing this team, 100 per cent."

Gerry Brownlee has been reported as taking over as campaign chair. 

Mr Muller described Ms Bennett today as "a significant asset to the National Party".

"She's adored our members. She'll be very, very focused, as Simon is, actually, in terms of his comments yesterday, that we are on the cusp if we collectively pull together, to achieve a historic victory."