Wellington, Dec 15 NZPA -Labour MP Shane Jones and his leader, Phil Goff, appear to be at odds over the Government's choice of a Maori flag to be flown over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Parliament and Premier House on Waitangi Day.
Cabinet yesterday decided the tino rangatiratanga flag would be flown at significant sites controlled by the Government.
The decision followed a series of hui which Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said recorded 80 percent support for that particular flag, used as a symbol for the party he co-leads.
It has in the past been used by activists demanding Maori separatism.
Mr Jones criticised the hui process, saying it was run by Maori MP Hone Harawira who recently got into trouble for calling pakeha "white motherf...ers".
"I really believe that there is a case for us evolving a new flag, a more inclusive flag, for the whole nation, and there should be a Maori dimension to that flag.
"But the notion that we're going to go forward together, by Hone Harawira picking this flag and foisting it on John Key -- who should fly it outside his own whare rather than insist that it fly all over the North."
The flag itself was divisive and a "perpetuation of the Maori Party and their games at Waitangi", Mr Jones said.
But Mr Goff said the choice of flag was "fine" but dismissed the issue as minor.
The flag's background was as a symbol of the protest movement but could be made to stand for anything, he said.
"But as a design, the flag is perfectly fine, but people are worried about the way in which the decision was made," Mr Goff said.
"New Zealanders know that our position is not to support a position of separatism in New Zealand or Maori sovereignty in New Zealand.
"If it's an expression of Maori pride and Maori culture, fine, most New Zealanders would live with that."
The issue was a red herring which gave the Maori Party something to talk about other than the fact there would be no Maori representation on the super city and that they had lost representation on polytechnic councils, Mr Goff said.
Mr Key rejected Mr Jones' assertion the flag was picked by Mr Harawira and said it was designed about 10 years ago.
"I look at this situation and say `hey, 20 odd years ago Naida Glavish got sacked for saying kia ora', today people do not get sacked for saying kia ora," he said.
National MP Tau Henare said the decision would give Maori a spiritual boost and recognition.
"I think the vast majority will says `it's cool, it looks cool'."
Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua told The New Zealand Herald the flag represented the Maori Party rather than Maori in general and he would not let it fly at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi.
"Why should their political flag fly from our marae? John Key and his cohorts can fly it anywhere they like, but it will never fly at Waitangi."
However, the Waitangi National Trust Board, which administers the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi, said the trust had yet to consider the issue.
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