The Maori Party is being pressured to abandon its
relationship with the Government after Prime Minister John
Key said Waitangi Tribunal recommendations on water rights
could be ignored.
Maori Council co-chair Maanu Paul said the Maori Party should
walk away while its mana is still intact, Radio New Zealand
He said Mr Key was manifesting "institutional racism" by
insisting that nobody owns water.
"Here are two treaty partners, Maori and Pakeha, trying to
reach reconciliation in front of a reconciliation judicial
body called the tribunal and he's trying to load the dice.
"That is not acting fairly and honourably."
Mr Paul said as long as the Maori Party stands with the
Government, they will be seen as siding with the Government.
Maori rights lawyer Annette Sykes has also called for the
party to distance itself from the Government.
Ms Sykes is among the lawyers acting for claimant hapu at the
Waitangi Tribunal hearing on whether state asset sales should
be put on hold until Maori water rights are resolved.
Ms Sykes also said Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia should
put aside the 'baubles' of her office and remember she is
Maori, by walking out of the Maori Party's agreement with
National over water rights.
As Mana Party president, Ms Sykes said Mrs Turia in
particular should have a strong stance on the issue because
it was her own Whanganui iwi which was among the first to
fight for rights over fresh water. Ms Sykes said if Mrs Turia
did not act, she was effectively abandoning the fight of her
Yesterday, the Crown lawyers were asked by the Tribunal to
clarify a 2004 High Court case in which it was claimed the
Crown had ownership of water.
Crown lawyer Paul Radich said the Crown's position was that
nobody - including the Crown - owned water, and it was
possible the comments referred to were the view of a party in
that case rather than the Crown's.
However, speaking to media later, Ms Sykes said the Attorney
General's submissions in that Aoraki case clearly referred to
Crown ownership rights, which went directly against Prime
Minister John Key's continued claims that nobody owned water.
The Maori Party is due to meet Mr Key tomorrow to discuss his