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Demoted Government minister Meka Whaitiri defends interview where she denies grabbing staffer

Labour MP Meka Whaitiri has defended speaking out about allegations she grabbed a staffer, after she once again denied any altercation occurred. 

On TVNZ1's Marae, Ms Whaitiri was asked by host Miriama Kamo if speaking out could hurt her chances of being reinstated as a minister. 

"The story was for those from my electorate... [Ikaroa-Rāwhiti] who wanted to know and I felt I needed to explain it to them but also to show how I've moved on."

Ms Whaitiri continued: "I'm an open book, that's who I am, that's how I operate. I've been asked by the people of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti what happened and I felt the need to tell them, so that we can clear the decks, so they can see I've moved on and hopefully that they can move on."

A report last October found it "probable" Ms Whaitiri left bruising on a staff member in Gisborne in August, and the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP was demoted as Customs Minister by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In an interview with Turanga FM on Friday, Ms Whaitiri said, "there was no altercation, there was no assault".

"I didn't grab her as I'm alleged to have done because I'm in a public place and I don’t grab staff."

"I did not touch my staff member. I growled her for not doing her job but I didn’t touch her."

On Marae, Ms Whaitiri said Ms Ardern "supports me as a hard-working electoral MP" and was aware she wanted to do the interview. 

Ms Whaitiri has continuously denied the alleged incident. 

When asked yesterday on Marae if she wanted the portfolios back, Ms Whaitiri said it was a decision for the Prime Minister, and she was "focusing on the issues that matter in my electorate". 

On if she has Jacinda Ardern's support to return to being a Minister, Ms Whaitiri said, "she continues to support me". 

Ms Whaitiri said she had never spoken to the staffer "and if I did I'd probably say, kia tau te rangimārie, it's about peace and it's about moving on". 

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"I'm an open book,” the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP told TVNZ1’s Marae. Source: Marae