PM: No apology for 'insulting' comments

File photo / NZPA
File photo / NZPA

Prime Minister John Key says he will not apologise for comments about the Waitangi Tribunal which Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples last week said were "insulting", when he meets them tonight.

Mrs Turia and Dr Sharples sought tonight's meeting after Mr Key said his Government may ignore the tribunal's findings with regards to the Maori Councils claim to stop the sale of Mighty River shares until Maori rights over water are addressed. Mrs Turia last week said Mr Key's comments were insulting to claimants and wouldn't rule out ending the two parties' three and a half year old support agreement.

Mr Key has maintained his comments merely stated the Government's position and he this week went on to describe the council's claim as "opportunistic.

He is to meet with Mrs Turia and Dr Sharples at 9pm tonight.

This afternoon he said he was looking forward to it.

"I think it will be constructive. Personally my view is the Maori Party has achieved an awful lot with National in Government in the four years they've been with us I think they can be proud of what they've achieved and my preference would be that they stay."

Mrs Turia this afternoon refused to be drawn on what she planned to tell the Prime Minister tonight

"That remains to be seen the parties come into the meeting we won't know until the end of the meeting what's been achieved."

Asked whether should would seek an apology, she said she and Dr Sharples would "certainly not be telling him what he should be doing".

She downplayed the prospect that the Maori Party would walk away from its relationship with National.

"The media suggested that. We haven't actually said that at all."

Mr Key said it was "always possible" the Maori Party would walk.

"You can't nail people's feet to the floor. I'd be sorry to lose them if they went and I hope they don't go."

- APNZ

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