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An NBR ONLINE poll result showing almost half of readers think National should ditch its coalition with the Maori party is "surprising", according to a political scientist.
NBR subscribers were last week asked: Should National abandon its confidence and supply agreement with the Maori Party?
Forty-six percent of respondents said yes, while 54% said no.
Prime Minister John Key offended the Maori Party last week when he suggested the government could ignore the Maori Council's Treaty claim on water rights.
Otago University political studies lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards says the poll result is more a slight on the Maori Council than the National Party.
"It speaks to how strongly people feel towards the Maori Council's attempts to slow down the asset sales process.
"There will be a connection for many people between the Maori Council and the Maori Party. Quite separate bodies, but big overlaps in terms of political agendas.
"For a lot of people, it is anti-democratic that a party has gone to the people, got a mandate and then we've had opportunistic attempts to slow that democratic mandate down.
"People could be quite upset about that."
Dr Edwards says it is surprising that nearly half of respondents think National should ditch its confidence and supply agreement with the Maori Party, when National has gained the most as a result of the coalition.
"It has been a stamp of legitimacy within Maoridom that National has received.
"Although it might be seen as only having resonance for Maori voters, I think it has wider resonance for people who are sympathetic to Maori aspirations."
However, he says the poll indicated the strong feelings people have about the water rights issue.