NZ POLITICS DAILY: Key, Maori Party kiss and make up

Prime Minister John Key

Promises have been made, explanations given and accepted, and everyone is still on speaking terms.

Certainly, the tension and sense of crisis in the National-Maori Party relationship has eased but, of course, the underlying issue is far from being resolved.

The promise not to legislate over any rights won in court is the major win for Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples – see Adam Bennett’s Maori Party leaders 'really pleased' with PM's meeting pledge.

This had to be a bottom line for the relationship of a party forged in anger over Labour’s overruling legislation on the foreshore and seabed. TVNZ’s Corin Dann sees it as a positive outcome, at least in the meantime – see: Win-win for PM and Maori Party

If National’s commitment not to legislate is an absolute guarantee then it is a significant concession. It means a negotiated settlement will be the only way forward if a court rules that Maori interests in water have to be formally recognised.
But if the promise not to negotiate is only good for however long the coalition relationship lasts, then the practical effect is much more limited.
The Maori Party would always have had have to walk away from the coalition if special legislation was used, so in this context the promise would really only be a statement of political reality – much like the PM’s comments about the Waitangi Tribunal.
Normally, a messy coalition break-up would be damaging to both parties, but the brutal truth is that National could easily turn it to electoral advantage, even if accused (and being guilty) of bad faith. Gordon Campbell thinks a break is inevitable, particularly as welfare reforms and asset sales fallout takes a further toll on Maori Party support – see: Water issue strains political ties.
For National, the statement by the Maori Party that they "did not consider the debate to be one about ownership – ‘it is about protecting the rights and interests of hapu and iwi with respect to water’’’ is politically useful, but will have little impact on the legal and commercial realities during negotiations.
Instead, the government will be attempting to make a deal (mainly) with the large iwi corporate bodies. It is difficult to see iwi being content with a consultative role and assurances that their current water use will be protected. Instead, shares, commercial exploitation rights and/or cold hard cash will almost certainly be in mix.
A tribunal ruling and court decisions favourable to Maori interests seem very possible according Mai Chen in a useful article looking at the legal precedents that the government will have to face up to: ‘The unenviable position for the Crown to navigate is that there have been acknowledgments by the Government, and a legal history that recognises various forms of property rights and interests held by Maori in water. Any recommendations the tribunal makes, even if non-binding, will likely force the Crown to deal with the existing legal precedent’ – see: Govt faced with uncomfortable water precedents.
The real reason for Why the Maori Party won’t walk out is revealed by Patrick Leyland, with this quote from Pita Sharples in 2010: ‘Actually, I got so used to the increase in salary I told the Prime Minister you’d better be good because if the other guys get in, I’ll go sell myself over there to keep my ministerial salary. I just got a new house, man – I can’t afford it on a backbencher salary so I’m up for grabs’. Obviously very much a tongue-in-cheek comment from Sharples – but unlikely to raise many laughs in 2012.
Other important or interesting political items yesterday include:
  • Tensions between the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens have seen National trying to draw parallels with their New Zealand counterparts.  Vernon Small writes that the Greens voting support in well-off central city suburbs is common on both sides of the Tasman, but the hostility with Labour is not the same. He also says that National’s relationship seems ‘torn between hugging and mugging the Greens’, but that it is likely to lean towards the latter in the future – see: Key’s game is ripping into Greens.
  • Our police have been accused of being the willing puppets of the US and British governments, but now it seems they are protecting Fiji’s military ruler – see Matthew Backhouse and Claire Trevett’s SIS quizzes man over Fiji death plot.
  • The generational war is a myth says Cathy Odgers in The Fallacy of "Housing Affordability”, saying that ‘’the sorts shouting the loudest about “housing affordability” and “intergenerational theft” tend to be white and middle class which is why they are getting some traction in the media’. David Chaplin looks lightheartedly at what might happen if the Intergenerational war gets serious.
  • It seems Andrew Little can’t wait to get to court to defend Judith Collins’ defamation action – see Jane Clifton’s Court slip-ups keep MPs amused
Bryce Edwards

Yesterday’s content:
Water rights and asset sales
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): PM's explanation "accepted" by Maori Party
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Maori: The water will keep flowing
Claire Trevett (Herald): Taniwha proof of Maori water rights
Gordon Campbell (Wellingtonian): Water issue strains political ties
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): The final Maori Party sell out
Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): Why the Maori Party won’t walk out
Corin Dann (TVNZ): Win-win for PM and Maori Party
Duncan Garner (TV3): Crucial meeting for Tariana Turia
Socialist Aotearoa: Where are the churches?
Roeland Van den Bergh (Stuff): Call for MPs to keep check on SOEs
Willie Jackson (Auckland Now): Who owns our water?
Labour Party
Claire Trevett (Herald): New rule to keep long knives at bay
Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): Labour’s Organisational Review
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): Shearer or bust
Steven Cowan (Against the Current): The Road to Hell
Alex Fensome (Southland Times): Mallard may be back as buddy MP
John Hartevelt (Stuff): Bennett not backing down in fight
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): New delays expected for Housing NZ clients
Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate): The Fallacy of "Housing Affordability"
Parties and Parliament
Vernon Small (Dom Post): Key's game is ripping into Greens
Isaac Davison (Herald): Peters stands up for Maori smokers
Isaac Davison (Herald): Liquor bosses battle alcopop ban
Local government
Nikki Preston (Herald): Hamilton council not off the hook yet
Lincoln Tan (Herald): Council raids hit 50 brothels
Isaac Davison and Hayden Donnell (Herald): Willie Apiata: 'I am very proud of my service'
David Kennedy (Local Bodies): Our Children, Our Shame!
David Chaplin (Herald): Intergenerational war gets serious
Matthew Backhouse and Claire Trevett (Herald): SIS quizzes man over Fiji death plot






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1 Comment & Question

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If Maori own the water, well who owns the sky??? where the water comes from, maybe we need to put water meters up there, then who is respnsible if too much water falls from the Sky, and how do the land owners charge the Maori for taking the Water, ohhh that's right, according to Capt Cook if he didn't give it to the Maori they took it anyway, so nothings ever changed there.
Isn't this all getting rather pathetic.

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