Nats and Maori Party sign

By Derek Cheng

Prime Minister John Key hongis with Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples.
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key hongis with Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Developing Whanau Ora, a Ministerial Committee on Poverty and a new focus for Te Puni Kokiri are the centre-pieces of the National Party-Maori Party confidence and supply agreement.

It also allows the Maori Party to vote for legislation on a policy-by-policy basis, meaning it is free to oppose National's policy to partially sell state assets.

The announcement was made in Wellington this afternoon, and follows confidence and supply arrangements between National and Act, and National and United Future.

With the support of Act and United Future, the National-led coalition holds a majority of 61 seats in a 121-seat Parliament.

It does not need the Maori Party to form a Government, but the agreement gives National an extra buffer of three seats for confidence and supply.

Prime Minister John Key, in announcing the "Relationship Accord" and confidence and supply arrangement, said he looked forward to continuing to work constructively with the Maori Party.

The agreement means the Maori Party will support confidence and supply, but differs with the arrangements with Act and United Future in that the Maori Party is allowed to vote on a case-by-case basis.

In the Act and United Future agreements, those parties pledged support for National's post-election plan, including partial asset sales.

Co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia will largely keep their ministerial portfolios.

Dr Sharples will be Minister for Maori Affairs, Associate Corrections and Associate Education, the same as in the previous term.

Mrs Turia will be Minister for Whanau Ora, Disability Issues, Associate Health and hold some responsibilities for social development.

She sheds the Community and Voluntary Sector portfolio.

The National-Maori Party agreement includes:

* Work to develop Whanau Ora, including a commissioning agency in the next 12 months

* A Ministerial Committee on Poverty chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, and deputy chaired by Mrs Turia

* A doubling of the rheumatic fever programme from $12m to $24m

* Progress iwi as housing providers through the Social Housing Unit

* Continuing the constitutional review

* Refocusing Te Puni Kokiri on Maori employment, training, housing and education outcomes

* Work on plain packaging for cigarettes

Dr Sharples said the Maori Pary's nationwide hui had progressed well and he looked forward to the coming term.

Mr Key said he had no problem working with Te Ururoa Flavell if he replaces Dr Sharples as co-leader of the party during the parliamentary term, but Mrs Turia said it was "highly likely" the co-leaders would remain in Parliament for the full term.

The agreement follows a similar one in 2008, which included an agreement to keep the Maori electoral seats without the consent of the Maori people, a review of the foreshore and seabed legislation - which was subsequently replaced - and work on the Maori Party's flagship programme Whanau Ora.

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