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Maori Anger Grows Over Auckland Maori Seat Decision

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 25 NZPA - Maori anger grew today as the Government stood firm on its decision not to allow reserved Maori seats on the Auckland super council.

Tensions rose outside Parliament, with Auckland-based iwi describing it as a slap in the face that could lead to further protests.

Inside Parliament, frustrated National backbencher Tau Henare abused ACT leader Rodney Hide over his threat to quit as Local Government Minister if Maori seats were included.

Cabinet yesterday reaffirmed the decision it made in April not to have reserved seats, going against strong representations from the Maori Party and other Maori organisations.

Ngati Whatua runanga chairwoman Naida Glavish said it was another blow for Maori, who were trying to gain equivalence in society.

"Day in day out, year in year out, century in century out, we are told we are not equal. This is just more of the same, treating us as second class citizens," Ms Glavish said.

The Government had missed an opportunity to create a vigorous council, Ms Glavish said.

She could not see how Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and Mr Hide could come up a meaningful way to represent local iwi.

Prime Minister John Key has given the task of sorting out how to represent Maori views on the council to Maori co-leader Pita Sharples and Mr Hide.

Tainui representatives indicated that they might boycott any alternative way found to represent Maori views and both iwi were discussing holding a hikoi.

In Parliament, tensions within National over the decision spilled into the public when Mr Henare said he was "disappointed" at the decision.

When asked whether Mr Hide did the right thing in saying he would resign as minister if there were Maori seats, Mr Henare said Mr Hide had "played it silly".

Mr Hide was a "buffoon" and a "jerk-off," he said.

Dr Sharples continued to call for National MPs to be allowed a free vote on the issue.

If this happened it may have been possible for other parties to combine to overturn the Cabinet decision, but Mr Key ruled out the possibility.

Mr Henare said the decision had been taken by Cabinet and he would not defy the leadership and cross the floor.

Mr Key has said Mr Hide's threat to quit was a factor, but not a dominant one in Cabinet's decision.

"Ultimately it's been a long-held view of the National Party that they didn't want to see race-based seats in that second tier of government in New Zealand."

Labour leader Phil Goff said the process had been "a sham consultation".

A sub-committee of the special Auckland council select committee had been asked to look at the issue and Cabinet had made a decision before it had reported back.

"That makes a farce of democracy," Mr Goff said.

Mr Henare's comments showed their were splits between parties and within the National caucus on the issue.

"To get that sort of extravagant language...shows the divisions are deep," Mr Goff said.

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