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The Standard

Welded to National

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, July 19th, 2012 - 39 comments
Categories: john key, Maori Issues, maori party, national, water - Tags: , ,

So over the last few weeks Maori in general, and the Maori Party in particular, have been:

Insulted – PM’s Waitangi Tribunal comments ‘insulting’ – Maori Party

Kept waiting for a week – Key too busy to meet Maori party this week

Insulted again – Claim over water ‘opportunistic’ – PM

Denied an apology – PM: No apology for ‘insulting’ comments

And finally patronised – Maori Party, National still friends after meeting

Why do I say “patronised”?  Well, Key has got away with the token reassurance that the government won’t “legislate away” any water rights.  In the short term there’s no need when they maintain the position that they can simply ignore the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal.  In the longer term of potential legal processes and challenges it doesn’t matter to Key – the asset sales will have gone ahead, he may well be out of office, and if he is still there he knows that he can get away with pretty much anything because the Maori Party is welded to National.

From his point of view Key has played this brilliantly.  He’s walked all over the Maori Party and thus dog-whistled to his base, and he’s got away with it cost free (the cost of inflaming ongoing racial tensions in NZ is not a factor for him).  Key will be laughing all the way to the bank.

39 comments on “Welded to National”

  1. Tracey 1

    “In the longer term of potential legal processes and challenges it doesn’t matter to Key – the asset sales will have gone ahead, he may well be out of office, and if he is still there he knows that he can get away with pretty much anything because the Maori Party is welded to National.”

    precisely what I was thinking. IF the WT uphold Maori rights to water, then it will go to Court, and get appealed and appealed. That will take a few years. I admired Turia for sticking to her principles and thereby leaving Labour, however this issue has seen her personal bitterness against labour for what it was, personal. It is simply inconsistent with her previously aspoused principle to remain with this PM who has indicated what he thinks of Maori water rights and the Tribunal. However it is now being spun, he was clearly telling his voters that if the WT granted water rights to Maori he would not be adhering to it, thereby forcing it through the courts (which have a history of upholding WT decisions).

    I believe this is down to Whanau Ora. A programme which is close to Turia’s heart and I suspect Key made it very clear what will happen to WO if the MP are not in coalition with him.

    Turia’s bitterness toward Labour is still so close to the surface (which is fine) but imo, sadly it has rendered her previous “principled” stand a little less principled.

    Oh, and you forgot to add “Key will have his knighthood”…

  2. Tom Gould 2

    Now that Key has ruled out intervening in the matter, there can now be no doubt that the uncertainty around the water rights issue will have a material effect on the IPO share price. Not that the so-called ‘business journalists’ will report it, nor the so-called ‘political journalists’. On the contrary, they will report the sale process is now assured. Bizarre.

    • Dv 2.1

      I was interested in the comments of the Pyke mine receiver, that overseas buyers opted out because of the uncertainty of the Crafar farms.

      It seems to me if the ‘cost’ of the essential resource, water, is not sorted, then the float has major problems. (Mums and dads will notice they are being sold a pup.)

  3. Carol 3

    Agreed, Anthony. As I said on Open Mike a little while ago:

    http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-19072012/comment-page-1/#comment-495307

    So Turia was upset that Key had insulted the Waitangi Tribunal, and, this includes the Maori Council’s role in the Tribunal. Key continued to say he preferred to negotiate with directly with Iwi leaders. Turia & the Mp wanted an apology.

    But the government argued that negotiation can occur after the sale of Mighty River Power, while the Tribunal want it to be decided before the sale:

    Now Turia and Sharples are claiming that they have a victory with Key saying he won’t stop Maori going to court over water rights.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/110965/maori-party,-pm-agree-on-further-talks-on-water

    But all they’ve got is a deal saying exactly what Key was saying a couple of days ago – that government will deal directly with Iwi (and Hapu) leaders:

    It says the two parties have agreed that when the Waitangi Tribunal report is issued that, as part of developing their respective responses, they will jointly discuss the matter.

    The statement says that for the Maori Party, the debate is not about ownership, but about protecting the rights and interests of hapu and iwi with respect to water.

    It says the Maori Party and the Government will continue to support a process of negotiation between hapu, iwi and the Government over water rights.

    And it says the Government has undertaken not to legislate over those rights and interests.

    Interviews with Hone Harawira and Shane Jones a little while ago on Morning Report: One of them said it’s about the government following a divide and conquer strategy….. and no apology for insulting the Tribunal and Maori Council, while the Mp are supporting Key’s marginalisation of both the Tribunal & Council.

  4. Blue 4

    Oh, the Maori Party got treated like crap and then rolled over to have their tummies scratched when JK got around to it? You don’t say. Business as usual, then.

    • Tracey 4.1

      Don’t the MP marvel at how many ACT policies get through compared to theirs despite the disproportionate representation in the elctorate?

    • Tiger Mountain 5.1

      Evocative piece felix, Braunias is one of the best ‘skewering’ writers and usually leaves that little window of empathy for the person he has just done over.

  5. Tiger Mountain 6

    The Māori Party has at least done the country one great service, providing a real world example of the inbuilt flaws of identity politics in a parliamentary setting. The usual negative stats have headed North (no pun etc.) since Tari and Pita got aboard the tory bus. No beret for Tari on TV this morning.

    Putting the slipper into the wounded beast that is the MP is easy, so it is good that others have kept their political compass such as Hone, Mana and the “No Asset Steals” campaigners. While the Iwi Leaders Group could be categorised as “brown tablers” or “neo tribalists” as Dr Elizabeth Rata termed previous Māori capitalist enablers, the current ILG needs regular assessment. Sonny Tau and the ILG did a damn good job on the despicable Talleys to halt their union busting attempt at AFFCO.

  6. Carol 7

    And, as background, it’s worth reading Mai Chen’s article (posted in the last hour) about legal precedents for water “ownership” and rights. She cites a fairly long list of relevant cases starting in 1896.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10820517

    But also, she points out that the Resource Management Act is in conflict with the Waitangi Tribunal:

    The crux of the issue is what is meant by “ownership” and how rights to fresh water are managed and allocated. In the tribunal, the Maori Council argues that the Crown has effectively assumed ownership of water by establishing and controlling the water use rights regime under the Resource Management Act 1991.

    The Crown has assumed the right to grant resource consents for water permits. And now the Crown, as a non-owner, will commercially benefit from those control rights under the proposed partial sale of the state-owned power companies.

    These energy SOEs hold various water consents relating to power generation. A 2005 High Court decision (Aoraki Water Trust v Meridian Energy) held in effect that water consents are akin to property rights in water because in many cases they grant exclusive rights to use that water resource. And these are consents that run for up to 35 years.

    However the Crown decides to settle Maori claims to water, these existing consents will be difficult, if not impossible, to disturb.

    Tribunal presiding officer Chief Judge Wilson Issac asked pointed questions of Crown witnesses about the reliance of the energy SOEs on these water rights. The fact is that energy SOEs, and their Government shareholder, derive significant commercial advantages from the consent regime. Yet the claimants argue that there is little quid pro quo for iwi and hapu that claim rights akin to ownership of these waterways.

    You cannot challenge Parliament’s right to enact laws such as the Resource Management Act in the courts but you can in the Waitangi Tribunal, as a breach of the Treaty.

    The unenviable position for the Crown to navigate is that there have been acknowledgments by the Government, and a legal history that recognises various forms of property rights and interests held by Maori in water. Any recommendations the tribunal makes, even if non-binding, will likely force the Crown to deal with the existing legal precedent.

    There is a slight shift in Key’s agreement with the Maori Party last night in that he also recognises the need to deal with Hapu leaders and not just Iwi leaders.

    • Dr Terry 7.1

      Thank God for small mercies (“slight” is the word!)

      • Carol 7.1.1

        Yeah, it is slight. On that comment I was following Chen’s statement:

        The Crown has consulted directly with some, but not all, iwi and not with hapu. The interests of those Maori who already have balance sheets and those who do not starts to diverge.

        Yet the Paki case in the Supreme Court that I wrote about on July 9 found that the section of riverbed claimed by the hapu had not been vested in the Crown, leaving the door open for recognition of hapu rights and interests.

  7. Sharples and Turia have been stunned by the bright lights of money and trinkets,they
    have demonstrated that key and national can diss their people and they both will turn
    the cheek.
    Turia has already stated in the past that she is a ‘big spender’ so the question is what
    is the price you need to support the mana of your people and show that you are not
    selfish in your personal aspirations but selflless for the rights of your people.

  8. vto 9

    I might be missing something here, but all this MP hoohaa is a bit of a waste of space when it comes to the soe’s and the WT process, is it not?

    The WT process is underway and may go to courts and delays and injunctions and everything – all of which is entirely independent of the Maori Party.

    I don’t see any change to the asset sales process and the WT process as a result of Turia and Sharples and Key and baubles and shared kisses ….

    • Carol 9.1

      I don’t see any change to the asset sales process and the WT process as a result of Turia and Sharples and Key and baubles and shared kisses ….

      Exactly. Key’s taking a punt here, in order to get the asset sale/s through quickly, and then having to negotiate any water deals or court cases afterwards.

      There’s a division between Iwi leaders and the Waitangi Tribunal and Maori Council. Any court case will follow from the Tribunal decision.

      Given the list of cases and the conflict with the RMA, as cited by Mai Chen above, any negotiations will be complex.

      It seems to me that Key’s gambling on adding an already-sold-asset to this complexity, before having to negotiate. It’s a kind of ownership-is-nine-tenths-of-the-law situation. Once the shares are sold, it’ll be difficult to go back on that in spite of whatever legal wrangles follow.

      Shame on you Maori Party for giving your assent to this.

  9. Tombstone 10

    I’m a welder by trade and I can you right now they might be welded together but like anything to do with the Nact party that weld will be chock full of porosity and will need to ground out and rewelded using some 1.2 Labour wire with a backing run of 1.2 Green wire. Nuff said!

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Very nice

    • mike e 10.2

      tombe to much corrosion has taken place for there to be a successful weld.

    • joe90 10.3

      Piss poor surface preparation poorly bevelled with longitudinal cracking, slag inclusion and undercut with high porosity and unlikely to pass a free bend test. In short, birdshit..

  10. Te Reo Putake 11

    Interesting article in the Utne reader about the fight to stop underground aquifers in the Nevada/Utah region being drained to supply Las Vegas with water. The spiritual link of the native peoples to the water is central to the argument.

    • Tiger Mountain 11.1

      Heh, well apparently in these here parts Māori have dominion over a spring that supplies substantial water to Rotorua (RotoVegas, what a lame name but nevermind.) No one owns water, especially not the pure rain water that sits in my two huge tanks, but a lot do own the rights to it and make substantial bucks like Auckland Watercare and bottled H2O purveyors.

    • freedom 11.2

      thanks Te Reo Putake, a good read. I often feel stewardship is too difficult a concept for this technological age to grasp so perhaps the current water discussion will open a few minds to what really matters. Another aspect of that article I particularly enjoyed was how the spiritual thread was woven into the essential message that the only future worth living is one built from co-operation.

      Co-operation is simply a pool of inspiration to draw from. The nats current plan seems to be one that uses that inspiration to satiate the thirst of the greedy at the expense of future generations. Apart from being batshitcrazy, it does seem a tad selfish. If only there was a way to get the fw’s in control to understand that.

      Despite the self-important thousand sales a second shareprices, the concept of water rights only highlight how a hundred years is not a long time when you are discussing the human need for water. Any stream of base logic shows the waste and pollution of our waterways must be stopped. Who profits from that activity is not as important as the fact Water means, feeds and is, Life.

      Taking the argument away from the powerpoint presentation of pure economics and having it kneel in the acrid mud of industrial and agricultural excess is never easy, but it is always going to be an essential task in facing reality. A reality, many would agree, that the market forces should be made to experience face down.

  11. Sanctuary 12

    The saddest thing about Turia was the way she tried to turn her humiliation into yet another bitter attack on Labour. If we could a way to process the chip on her shoulder the over supply of MDF would collapse the price overnight.

  12. tracey 13

    Thank god that soneone finally pointed out that to all intents and purposes water is owned, by energy companies, and the pm’s selective semantics doesnt chanfe that. Another white lie to thevpm

  13. gobsmacked 14

    Of course they didn’t really meet for one and a half hours. If you’ve seen “The West Wing”, you’ll know they dealt with it in five minutes, and then had a feed of ice cream. Key’s people will have told them to wait, firstly to give the impression the Maori party was being taken seriously, and secondly to catch the late TV news bulletins. All the telly people ever want is a live cross, so give it to them. Which they duly delivered. The substance? Nothing at all, but who cares?

  14. gobsmacked 15

    This could put a strain on the smiles today …

    Question Time, from 2 pm:

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Māori Affairs: “Does he consider water to be an economic resource for Māori?”

    So that’s Sharples versus Winston – the partner National have got, versus the voters they want. Poodle versus dog whistle. With a direct question, the kind Lockwood likes.

    Sharples might want to be conveniently absent for this one.

    • gobsmacked 15.1

      Sharples might want to be conveniently absent for this one.

      And so he was.

      Finlayson answered on his behalf, and ducked for cover. He said there was no ministerial responsibility for the meeting last night, because it was between party leaders!

      So naturally a Labour MP jumped up and said … “Point of Order … is the Minister telling the House and the country that comments made by the Prime Minister, leading to a meeting with the PM in the Beehive to discuss those comments, a meeting specifically to address Maori concerns, all have nothing to do with the Minister of Maori Affairs?”

      Well, no they didn’t. Because they are dozy and useless. But they shouted a lot, and had fun in their own little caucus world, which is clearly their main priority.

  15. Tracey 16

    Question for the PM

    “Do currently state owned power companies get the water for free?”

  16. Tracey 17

    I just posted this on another thread but the PM and his band of round tablers keep putting me in mind of this monty python scene

    http://thestandard.org.nz/opportunistic/comment-page-1/#comment-495464

  17. gobsmacked 18

    Looks like last night’s piece of paper is going to be even more short-lived than the one Neville Chamberlain waved at the airport. No peace in our time …

    From Newstalk ZB’s Felix Marwick:

    The Government is qualifying a promise it’s making on Maori water rights.

    The Maori Party says it’s been promised the Government won’t legislate on water rights apply even if the Courts should establish that Maori have a proprietary interest in water.

    John Key says the position is right, but it would depend on all the factors involved.

    “I think it’s a big difference between the recognition of a right or interest to ownership because ownership complies ownership to the whole resource and payment for use of that resource, there’s quite a big difference.”

    (translation – “it all means whatever I want it to mean, depending on the latest polls” …)

    (also – yet more mangling of the English language – comply is not imply, you dunce).

    • Carol 18.1

      And Blingish was wriggling around and avoiding a direct answer on behalf of JK today in Question Time:

      http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/b/a/b/50HansQ_20120719_00000001-1-Water-Rights-Prime-Minister-s-Statements.htm

      Grant Robertson: Can he confirm that it is his Government’s intention that no matter what the outcome of the Waitangi Tribunal and subsequent court action—whatever rights it may decide Māori have in terms of water—his Government will not legislate in that regard?

      Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Prime Minister stands by the statement in the statement that was released last night. It is the Government’s expectation that—well, put it this way: the member is probably not correctly connecting any outcome from the Waitangi Tribunal with any outcome from the court action, because the court action is much more likely to be focused on preventing the sale of assets going ahead, rather than any particular aspect of Māori rights and interests.

  18. Eduardo Kawak 19

    Maori do have the rights and it is already being asserted:

    http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/content/library/taupofisheryregulations.pdf

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