Maori making history; mood positive

Rahui Katene
Rahui Katene
Maori are about to make history, according to newly-elected Maori Party MP Rahui Katene after a series of hui in the South yesterday.

The Te Tai Tonga MP said "there were good decisions" from Maori Party members regarding a draft agreement with the National Party.

"This is history being made," she said.

Fog in Christchurch delayed her arrival to hui in Invercargill and Dunedin.

Ms Katene said the mood at the hui was good: "Our people are positive. Our people have to be".

Details of the hui, which were open only to party members, were not revealed, but it was believed there were discussions on ministerial posts, such as Maori affairs.

Whatever consensus was reached, any final decision would be "up to [Prime Minister-elect] John Key", she said.

More than 30 people attended the Dunedin hui and 20 in Invercargill, with the party also adding new members to its 23,000 total.

Last night, Ms Katene attended a hui in Christchurch and today will travel to Picton and Nelson before her final hui in Wellington tomorrow.

The southern hui were among the 40 being held around New Zealand after talks this week with Mr Key when a draft agreement was reached.

The deal involves ministerial positions outside Cabinet and policy concessions, which included movements on the Maori seats and the foreshore and seabed legislation.

Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have until Sunday to sign up to support Mr Key's Government.

Ms Turia said the constituency wanted the party to be in "a strong position of influence, to look out for their interests" and there had been no dissension.

The deal has been criticised by Labour's new leader, Phil Goff, who said the Maori Party was going against the wishes of Maori voters by siding with the National Party.

"It has made this decision notwithstanding the fact that in every Maori seat, voters on the ground gave the majority of the party vote to Labour, outpolling National by six to one."

Labour had delivered for Maori and the Maori Party was taking a risk, he said.

Ms Turia told The New Zealand Herald Mr Goff's comments were "bloody patronising behaviour" and he was "scaremongering" to try to derail the process.

"He's trying, once more, to frighten our people into saying we should sit with Labour. Well, Labour didn't even invite us to sit with them in the last government and our people are sick and tired of being told what to do.

"He should stick with re-building the Labour Party instead of trying to dismantle others."

Ms Turia said there was a strong feeling that "red or blue" it was critical to have a Maori voice in government.


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