The Maori Party has come out firing against Prime Minister John Key after he said the Government can ignore recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal.
The Tribunal is currently hearing submissions on the ownership of the water used to generate electricity for the four state-owned power companies the Government plans to partially sell.
Mr Key appeared on Firstline this morning and said the power companies can be partially sold regardless of what the Tribunal comes up with.
The Maori Party has waded into the debate and says the comments are an insult to Maori and breach the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi.
"Let us not forget the Tribunal represents the Treaty partnership. The membership of the Tribunal being half tangata whenua and half Crown representation is a tribute to this partnership,” co-leader Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia said in a statement.
“The Tribunal, in making recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown, which breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi, has a significance and a status amongst tangata whenua which should be recognised."
Mr Shaples and Ms Turia say Mr Key’s comments are “bitterly disappointing”.
“To make such comments is an insult to all of us. We believe that the Government is required in good faith to consider the recommendations of the Tribunal.
“We will be eagerly awaiting the Tribunals’ recommendations and also seeking the Iwi Leaders’ response to these comments. It is of utmost concern in so far as it threatens the very heart of the Treaty relationship”.