Rodney Hide's challenge this morning as he explains his threat to resign as a minister if there are any Maori seats on the Auckland supercouncil will be to fight the perception that he has issued a threat, or delivered an ultimatum,  that he is holding the Government to ransom, blackmailing the Government, or being the Act tail that wags the National dog.

They have echoes of the first dysfunctional MMP coalition where trust disappeared and crises thrived.

Hide's situation bares little comparison to that time.  And his promise for the Act party to support National on confidence and supply, no matter what, means stability is not threatened.

National still has the luxury of going to either Act or the Maori Party for a majority on bills and both on confidence and supply.

Hide will argue that Act is sticking to a point of principle. But that principle has proved flexible in the past when it has come to Maori seats in the general election.

This is from my blog following a leaders' debate in last year's election campaign:

Act's Rodney Hide put his weight behind the Maori Party last night, supporting any move to entrench the Maori seats on the basis that what was good for the general seats should apply to the Maori seats too.

Whatever Act's point of principle is, it is not consistency.

It is more likely that Act is digging in on point of strategy. The small party has found an issue outside dreary issues of regulatory reform and more efficient Government on which to differentiate. The fact that few Maori are elected to local councils is not their concern.
Act can makes its stand in the knowledge that the Maori Party is not going to throw in their warrants or bring down the Government.

Hide almost certainly won't be put in the position to carry out his threat to resign because National looks set to keep Maori representation out of the supercity legislation.

But just because it won't happen, doesn't mean it isn't serious. It might not threaten stability, but it threatens the perception of stability and John Key's reputation as a deal-maker.

Unusually, no compromise has been found. As Tau Henare said in his letter to National colleagues this week pleading the case for the Maori seats, there has been "a distinct lack of political will.'

John Key indicated early on that he was open to compromise, that while Maori seats were not part of the supercity bill, it was not ''set in stone.'

But Key has clearly no compelling reason to find a compromise. Maori seats are something his party is tolerating because of its deal with the Maori Party, rather than advancing.

And the public is evenly split on the Maori seats - 45 per cent Yes and 44 per cent No according to a TV3 poll last night of 1000 people.

Henare 's letter to National MPs fell into the hands of TV3's Scott Campbell and subsequently led to the outing of Hide's threat to resign.

Henare's letter overstated the threat -  implying that Hide had threatened to pull his party's support for the Government rather than resigning as Local Government Minister.

But here it is in full:

There has been a wealth of arguments in support of Maori Representation on the Supercity expressed during the select committee process and discussions throughout the media. This support covers a range of themes from justice, democracy, economic value, cultural identity, political diversity to successful prototypes.
Essentially it all boils down to one concept, progress. Maori political representation is seen as an essential part of our developing nation of which my presence among you as a list member is a clear example.
My pride at belonging to this party is largely in the way it has overseen some of the most fundamental political changes in our nation's history. MMP, Treaty of Waitangi settlements, the first woman Prime Minister were all achieved through immense political skill despite the presence of a small, permanent and sometimes potent constituency highly resistant to change.
Surprisingly, the expected backlash from recent developments such as the coalition with the Maori Party, the Maori flag issue, the foreshore and seabed review, failed to eventuate. Given that public opposition towards Maori issues now appears to have dissipated, the resistance to Maori seats instead shows a distinct lack of political will.
Clearly we are at a crossroads. The Act party has threatened to end its relationship with National if we allow Maori seats on the Supercity. Despite multiple arguments in support, its mind cannot be changed. I have tried.
Consequently, I believe the issue is too far-reaching and too important for a party presently sitting at 1 per cent in the polls to decide alone.
I propose therefore that we have a caucus discussion on the possibility of conducting a free vote, thereby leaving the issue for Parliament to debate.
The option of crossing the floor is simply not an option, and I want to reaffirm my commitment to support whatever decision the caucus makes.
Finally keep in mind that Maori political representation signifies progress, eight Maori councillors elected on to the Auckland City Council in the last 150 years does not.
Photo: Rodney Hide faces some serious challenges this morning. Photo / Richard Robinson