COMMENT:

It's hardly surprising that the elderly woman sitting with her trademark sunglasses next to the Prime Minister at the Cabinet table had a 'wow' moment.

Titewhai Harawira was there along with other Māori heralding the Crown's new partnership with tangata whenua - and the old rabble rouser's place at the table wasn't lost on her.

It's a long way from the protest line, she smiled and exclaimed, to be sitting there after years of "struggle, shouting and carrying on, and who loves ya darling".

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Well, one woman who didn't love her very much was Helen Clark, who saw her as a hater and wrecker who once reduced her to tears for refusing her the right to speak at the marae because she was a woman.

Like her grandson Wikatana Popata, who was sitting at the same elevated table, they've both got form. Both for assault, with Popata once slugging John Key when he was running the show.

The group made history though, becoming the first people to sit at the Cabinet table who weren't sworn ministers. It was the Government doing what it does better than any other, virtue signalling, but for the time being at least not delivering the goods - that'll come when they know what the goods are.

Hawawira seems to know what to expect, a ministry that guides Māori in partnership through the post-Waitangi settlement process with, she says, the one man who's got the shoulders and the backbone to give it a go.

When it's up and running Kelvin Davis will be the Minister for Crown-Māori Partnership which is distinct from the Māori Affairs Minister and the current ministry, Te Puni Kōkiri.

So it's another tier of bureaucracy and on the face of it it's hard to see why it's needed, despite the symbolism of the Cabinet room. Te Puni Kōkiri is there to lead Māori public policy and to advice on policy affecting Māori wellbeing.

But given Māori are on the wrong side of the statistical table on virtually every count, and comprising more than half of our prison population, the system's clearly not working.

If the goodwill exhibited around the Cabinet table is translated into the stepping stone of making decisions together, that Harawira spoke about, rather than making decisions in isolation, then it's a stone worth stepping on.

And if Labour, with all seven Māori seats finally back under its banner can't make a difference with them, then surely no one can.

The final shape of the new agency will, like most things launched with great fanfare by this Government, be known in the coming weeks when it's signed off by Cabinet.

And the cost? They're not saying.