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Maori Party Leaders End Initial Talks With National

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Prime Minister elect, John Key, left, with Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, deputy National's Bill English and Pita Sharples after meeting in Parliament. Credit:NZPA/Ross Setford
Prime Minister elect, John Key, left, with Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, deputy National's Bill English and Pita Sharples after meeting in Parliament. Credit:NZPA/Ross Setford

Wellington, Nov 12 NZPA - The Maori Party will consider a finalised draft support agreement with the National Party today, then go immediately on the road to get the views of its members.

Prime Minister elect John Key held a second round of talks today with Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples in a bid to sew up 70 votes in support of his government.

After the meeting the pair told journalists the talks had resulted in National Party staff being asked to draft a confidence and supply agreement.

Dr Sharples said if he didn't think there were gains for Maori in the proposals being offered by National, then the talks would not be proceeding.

The co-leaders refused to discuss the details, including whether they were being offered ministerial appointments.

"The most important thing we are agreeing to is how our relationship will move forward, whether that ends up being ministerials that is to be determined," Mr Turia said.

Maori MPs will now spend the next few days talking to members to see whether they supported the relationship with National.

"Mana enhancing is the word we are using," Dr Sharples said.

Mrs Turia said they were happy with the way the relationship was progressing.

The agreement would include some policy detail, but they would not discuss it ahead of final decisions over whether to support National.

"We are not saying what we are being offered...this is about our relationship moving forward that what people want to know about," Mrs Turia said.

Prior to the election Maori Party members feared they would have to make a choice between Labour and National, but the decisive result for Mr Key meant there was only one deal on the table.

Today Mrs Turia and Mr Sharples arrived for the second round of talks about 15 minutes late and dodged waiting media by entering National's offices through the back entrance.

The meeting ran longer then scheduled and the pair also tried to avoid the media when leaving, but were pursued by journalists and cornered near their offices in Parliament.

Once stopped they seemed happy to talk though reluctant to discuss any details.

The party wanted to talk to their members about the deal, though it was not clear whether they would get given much detail either.

The hui would be held up to Sunday, when there would be a final meeting with National.

There would be no votes at the hui, but if more than 50 percent of people spoke against then that would be message to the MPs, Mrs Turia said.

The feedback from leaders in Maoridom was that it was important to have a relationship with National.

"We wouldn't have gone this far if we didn't see gains," Dr Sharples said.

Asked if they were excited about the deal, Mrs Turia said "ask us in three years".

Mr Key is on track to announce his cabinet at the weekend and have it sworn in on Wednesday.

ACT, with five seats, and United Future, with one, have already pledged support on confidence votes.

With National's 59 seats, Mr Key has a confirmed 65 confidence votes in the 122-member Parliament.

But Mr Key wants to form a broad-based government with the widest possible support.

He has said he will offer policy concessions and possible ministerial roles to reach a deal with the Maori Party.

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