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Early Positive Signals For Maori-National Deal

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tariana Turia
Tariana Turia

Wellington, Nov 13 NZPA - One of the first Maori Party hui gauging support for a deal with National has given a draft agreement the green light.

The party's MPs yesterday headed back to their electorates yesterday afternoon to conduct 40 hui after a second round of talks with Prime Minister elect John Key at which a draft agreement was concluded.

The deal involves ministerial positions outside cabinet and policy concessions, which Prime Minister elect John Key confirmed today included movements on the Maori seats and the foreshore and seabed legislation.

Maori Party leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have until Sunday to come back to Mr Key and sign up to support his government.

Supporters at one of the first hui, held by Dr Sharples in south Auckland last night, were overwhelmingly in favour of the deal, Radio New Zealand reported today.

Mrs Turia said the party had been receiving informal feedback along those lines from supporters since election night.

"There has been enormous interest from our membership who are urging us to `go for it'," she said yesterday.

Dr Sharples said he had been "really blown away" by how prepared the party's members were to become involved.

Today he said the agreement allowed for the Maori Party to get involved in constitutional issues including the entrenchment of the Maori seats and changes to foreshore and seabed legislation.

"It's the first time anyone has offered to do anything about those seats," he said on Radio New Zealand.

"Considering that they have a policy of getting rid of the seats, that they are prepared to look at how Maori fit into the whole constitutional framework is even better."

Mr Key today said National had made "predictable" policy compromises in those areas, but would not reveal the detail.

"Clearly there's some ground that's been given there and it's been given on both sides," he said on Radio New Zealand.

"The ground we've given is predictable and I think it's balanced."

Mr Key yesterday said he had offered the same sort of deal to the Maori Party, ACT and United Future, which would all have ministers outside cabinet.

In exchange the minor parties have to agree to give confidence votes to the Government.

ACT and United Future leader Peter Dunne have already done that and Mr Key already commands 65 confidence votes in the 122-member Parliament.

With the Maori Party he will have 70, an overwhelming majority against the 52 held by Labour and the Greens.

Mr Dunne today said his party's deal was all but signed.

"We're literally dotting i's and crossing t's at this stage," he said on Radio New Zealand.

Mr Key intends announcing his full cabinet on Sunday and having it sworn in on Wednesday.

With that done, he can then leave for Peru where the Apec summit meeting is being held.

He said yesterday he wanted to attend the meeting to get an assessment of latest moves in the international financial and economic crisis which will help him work out the best ways to see New Zealand through tough economic times ahead.

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