Call for Maori Party to abandon ties with National

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 reported.

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 own people.

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 comments.

 

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