Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Maori Party, Government hold talks to ease tensions

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia with Prime Minister John Key. File photo / Mark Mitchell
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia with Prime Minister John Key. File photo / Mark Mitchell

Maori Party co-leaders say they are pleased with their meeting with Prime Minister John Key tonight at which they gained a pledge the Government would not legislate against any court decision upholding Maori rights and interests in water.

Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples had previously indicated the meeting was called to discuss Mr Key's comments which they said undermined the Waitangi Tribunal which is currently hearing the Maori Council's bid to halt the sale of Mighty River Power until
Maori rights and interests in water are defined.

However after emerging from the meeting late last night Mrs Turia said "the main issue was that this Government would treat our people in the same way the Labour Party did by legislating away their rights''.

When asked whether that meant that should a court decision subsequent to the tribunal find that Maori did have proprietary type right over water, the Government would not legislate against that, Mrs Turia said "that was what they told us tonight''.

This is exactly what we needed to have an assurance on. It was the one issue that our people raised with us because of scaremongering by other political parties.

That was the concern of the iwi and that was certainly our concern as well.

"We're really pleased with the outcome.''

Meanwhile in a joint statement issued by Mrs Turia, Dr Sharples and Mr Key, they said that both parties had agreed that when the Waitangi Tribunal report on the Maori
Council's claim was issued that, "as part of developing their respective responses, the two parties will jointly discuss the matter''.

However Mrs Turia made it clear that those joint discussions did not mean the two parties would develop a joint response. They could agree to differ in their response to the tribunal's findings which are due by the end of this month.

- NZ Herald

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