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Key is 'trying to bash Maoris' - Paul

Thursday 12 Jul 2012 5:28 p.m.

By Patrick Gower

You couldn't have missed the statement Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia was trying to make at the Waitangi Tribunal.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters couldn’t resist commenting on her Tino Rangatiratanga beret.

“Well I thought, here comes Tariana Guevara,” he says, “it’s sort of pretty revolutionary.”

And there have certainly been plenty of familiar faces looking for a revolutionary ruling on whether Maori have ownership rights to water.

“What I call middle class, radical, treaty traveller Maori,” says Mr Peters.

But that's just “classic Winston” according to Maori Council co-chair Maanu Paul.

And its statements from Prime Minister John Key that the council says have been inciting the politics of race.

“I think he's trying to bash Maoris, and I think he's trying to do a Winston Peters, and I think he's not very good at it,” says Mr Paul.

Although Mr Paul has been giving as good as he gets all week.

“We need to sit down and work out how much [the Government] are going to pay us to use our water,” he says.

Mr Key has stayed true to his position – that all he has been uttering is the facts, and that a tribunal ruling will not stop asset sales.

So the divide between Mr Key and the Maori party isn't healing - and Mr Peters has his own take on that.

“Who cares,” he says.

Setting off the politics of race was likely just a side effect of Mr Key’s comments – the concept of Maori owning water is controversial and it goes with the territory.

But there's no doubt Mr Key's tough stance against Maori on this would have given his popularity a boost with core supporters, even if it was an unintended consequence.

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