Maori Party hounds Hide over Auckland board

Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide. Photo / Northern Advocate
Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide. Photo / Northern Advocate

The Maori Party today continued to hound Local Government Minister Rodney Hide over his attitude to Auckland Council's Maori Statutory Board, asking in Parliament what he meant when he said yesterday it was "inherently divisive".

Mr Hide didn't back down, saying he recommended against it when the Cabinet discussed the legislation that set up the new council.

"It was my view that the Auckland Council would be the best place to make decisions on how they engaged with Maori and involved them in the council's decision-making," he said.

"Cabinet decided instead to go with the Minister of Maori Affairs (Pita Sharples') option of a statutory board - and as I predicted this option has been inherently divisive as we've seen with Aucklanders' reaction over the past week."

The council has trimmed down funding for the board, and board members are taking legal action.

Dr Sharples yesterday said Mr Hide should resign if he couldn't accept the situation, and in Parliament today Prime Minister John Key agreed with Labour MPs that Dr Sharples had breached Cabinet rules by issuing his press statement on ministerial letterhead - ministers aren't supposed to criticise each other, and Dr Sharples should have done it in his Maori Party co-leader capacity.

"We have made that clear to Dr Sharples' office," Mr Key said.

Today the party's other co-leader, Tariana Turia, went into action.

"We are very clear that the reason why the council has had to spend exorbitant amounts of money is because Mr Hide didn't want to take the advice of the Royal Commission, he tried to prevent Maori from being elected onto the board through the Maori roll," she said.

Mr Hide did prevent Maori from being elected to reserved seats on the council - he threatened to resign if that proposal went ahead and it was scrapped.

Mrs Turia said Mr Hide was reaping the results of his own actions.

"I think that really the biggest disappointment has been Rodney and his attitude towards Maori people," she told reporters.

"He did say at one point he would resign and our advice to him is that would be a great thing for him to do."

- NZPA

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