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Maori Party refusing to walk away over Tribunal

Wednesday 11 Jul 2012 12:18 p.m.

By Kim Choe

Opposition parties have renewed calls for the Maori Party to end its support agreement with the Government over the Waitangi Tribunal dispute.

But the Maori Party says it values its position at the negotiating table, even though it's offended by comments from Prime Minister John Key.

The Maori Party says the Prime Minister's comments that the Government doesn't have to obey the Waitangi Tribunal are insulting, but still, it's still refusing to walk away from its support deal with National.

“I'd rather still be at the table making gains for Maori,” Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says.

“We are in [an] excellent relationship in terms of our policies and give and take.”

But fellow co-leader Tariana Turia hasn't managed to get a meeting with John Key. Last night she said his office hadn't returned her calls.

The Maori Party's refusal to walk comes despite its leaders saying National is undermining the tribunal process.

Mr Key maintains that even if it found Maori "could" claim ownership of waterways, it wouldn't affect asset sales.

Both Labour and the Mana Party say the Maori Party needs to get out of its agreement.

Labour leader David Shearer is wondering what they will do.

“What are they going to do about it? Are they just going to say look, "We're insulted"? That's what they've said. Or are they actually going to take that extra step and say ‘look, we don't want to be with you any more, this is a step too far’. But we haven't seen them actually do that yet.”

But he is not sure if the Maori Party will actually walk.

“Oh look, I think if they believe that their principles have been inflamed, they should stand by their convictions.”

But the Maori Party says its convictions are not - at this point - a deal-breaker.

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