Prime Minister Bill English indicated today that National would not make any move to get rid of the Maori seats if it continued to get the support of the Maori Party after the election.
He was commenting in Auckland after being asked about the reportedly bottom line policy of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to hold a referendum on getting rid of the seats in any post-election coalition deal.
"Mr Peters is probably losing track of his own bottom lines which seem to be dozens," English told reporters in Auckland.
"We are not taking that particularly seriously," he said.
National has a policy of abolishing the Maori seats but as a condition of the Maori Party support on confidence and supply for the past three terms, it has agreed not to pursue it.
While National has been a minority government, it has not required the Maori Party support to govern. It has also had the support of Act and United Future.
English said National's position on the Maori seats had been "reflected by the reality of our coalition over the very successful and stable coalition over the last three elections."
"We haven't made any move to get rid of the Maori seats and we wouldn't expect to do so."
The Maori Party holds one of the seven Maori seats, Waiariki, held by co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.
As well as abolishing the Maori seats, Peters has listed several other bottom lines - taken to mean policies on which he will not compromise during coalition negotiations. They include: Manned re-entry into the Pike River mine, holding a referendum on smacking, holding a referendum on reducing the size of Parliament by 20 people; and keeping the age of retirement at 65.
Meanwhile, in a Dargaville on Friday, Peters lashed out news media, including Mike Hosking, and former cricketer turned Newshub sports presenter Mark Richardson.
Describing Hosking as a "veteran squawker wounding our ears for decades," Peters hit out at him for a New Zealand Herald column expressing alarm at the prospect of Peters becoming Prime Minister.
Peters hit out at Richardson's criticism over him turning up to a meeting on the latest Manawatu Gorge road closure.
During a discussion with co hosts on the AM Show, Duncan Garner and Amanda Gillies, Richardson said Peters was a "political predator," and Gillies disagreed and said he was "a political pro."
Garner talked about Peters possibly becoming Prime Minister, as have many commentators, given that his negotiating team raised it during coalition talks in 1996 - the time, place, date and content of the discussion were revealed in a recent Weekend Herald (Peters and Jim Bolger were asked to leave the room by the New Zealand First negotiators while it was discussed).
Peters: "Of late there has been mindless speculation about the prime ministership," he said.
"Countless, unethical, unprofessional and dishonest commentators have claimed to know what I want.
"It matters not to them that they have not one shred of evidence to base their opinions on, but they are so odious as to carry on regardless and misrepresent me."