Prime Minister John Key has been given a swift history
lesson by his ally, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, after
Mr Key said Maori protesters risked de-railing the Treaty
settlement process by alienating public goodwill.
In his annual Waitangi breakfast address before iwi leaders
yesterday, Mr Key said public goodwill about the need for
Treaty settlements was critical to the success of the process
- but a few ''headline seekers'' could put that at risk by
turning the public against them.
Dr Sharples retaliated by saying nobody should be told to
stop protesting, and it was the cornerstone of society.
In his State of the Maori Nation address last night, in
direct contradiction of Mr Key's comments, Dr Sharples spoke
at length about the role protests had in giving Maori greater
He said protests throughout history had ensured Maori had
influence, and was important ''in opening doors''.
Asked about Mr Key's comments, Dr Sharples said he understood
where the prime minister was coming from.
''From his position, it can be sort of a hiccup.''
However, he said the ability to speak out was critical.
''I don't think anyone should be made to stop protesting.
It's a legitimate way to say `I'm not happy with something'.
And I think that's a cornerstone of our society - to have the
freedom to do that.''