Dumb or dissing?

Written By: - Date published: 8:07 am, July 12th, 2012 - 46 comments
Categories: Maori Issues, privatisation, water - Tags:

Some of the media reckon that Key slagging off the Waitangi Tribunal was an accident of honesty: he was just stating reality that the Tribunal’s findings aren’t binding, he didn’t realise it would provoke a firestorm of reaction. Others say he knew exactly what he was doing and provoked the firestorm to try to split the opposition to asset sales along racial lines.

Me, I don’t believe Key is dumb enough for the first option to be credible.  And, if he hadn’t meant to provoke a conflict, he would have modified his language by now. He hasn’t.

In his round of soft interviews at the start of the week, particularly after a slow week, Key has the chance to frame debate. He regularly uses it. He comes out with pre-prepared lines, which he repeats verbatim across the interviews. That’s what he did this week. His spin team had worked out the line with an objective in mind. That objective was to wedge Pakeha and Maori opponents of asset sales.

46 comments on “Dumb or dissing?”

  1. Some of the media reckon that Key slagging off the Waitangi Tribunal was an accident of honesty…

    I’ve seen some in media saying they don’t think it was deliberate provocation – Paddy Gower said this again this morning on Firstline. Gower said Key has been saying similar things since Waitangi Day without any issue being made of it, until now.

    Others say he knew exactly what he was doing and provoked the firestorm to try to split the opposition to asset sales along racial lines.

    Who has said anything like this, apart from you?

    • ScottGN 1.1

      Tracy Watkins in an opinion piece on Stuff for one;

      “OPINION: If you believe Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, Prime Minister John Key was just having a bad day when he raised the stakes in the row over water rights with Maori.

      Anyone who’s been a student of Mr Key for very long knows just how unlikely that sounds.

      In the same way that former prime minister Helen Clark’s labelling of foreshore and seabed activists as “haters and wreckers” was deliberate, Mr Key deliberately inflamed the dispute over water rights because the alternative – allowing the perception that water is a Treaty right – risks a backlash from heartland National voters equal to the fury over the foreshore and seabed.”

      • Pete George 1.1.1

        What John Key said was nothing like the one off “haters and wreckers” comment from Clark. A reminder of what he said:

        “The Waitangi Tribunal’s rulings are not binding on the Government, so we could choose to ignore what findings they might have – I’m not saying we would, but we could.”

        Unless you have an interest in trying to inflame things it’s very hard to use that as an inflammatory statement – he’s said similar things before (without being accused of being inflammatory) and it’s similar to widely expressed views on the Waitangi Tribunal.

        Any more?

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Well , for one , the Maori Party seem to have taken it as being provocative.

          Anything else in your crystal ball that tells you whats going on in JKs mind

        • ScottGN

          Whether Key’s statement was akin to Clark’s “haters & wreckers” comment is irrelevant. You asked whether anyone else had said anything that might support Zetetic’s assertion that Key’s comments were deliberate. It turns out that no less than the senior political journalist at one of the country’s most Tory leaning broadsheets has said exactly that.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.2

      Tracy Watkins:


      In the same way that former prime minister Helen Clark’s labelling of foreshore and seabed activists as “haters and wreckers” was deliberate, Mr Key deliberately inflamed the dispute over water rights because the alternative – allowing the perception that water is a Treaty right – risks a backlash from heartland National voters equal to the fury over the foreshore and seabed.

      • aerobubble 1.2.1

        Farmers buy water rights all the time, why would Key believe National voters would be against
        Maori stuffing up the Asset Sale timetable? Most don’t believe selling your best performing
        parts of your portfolio at the bottom of the market during a global crunch caused by world
        banks printing too much money, was a good idea. (to pay for the PM and top Editors to
        have a tax reduction).

    • Socialist Paddy 1.3


      Key does not brush his teeth without PR advice.

      He started the spin on Monday and has kept repeating it.  If as you claim it was accidental surely he would have apologised.

      Turia and Sharples are furious.  It is clear Key is playing the race card for all it is worth. 

      • Jim Nald 1.3.1

        Indeed. Just as he played the currency market, he plays his polling market.

        Tari and her Maori Party should rediscover their moral fibre and exercise their integrity and authenticity by walking away and refuse to be John Key’s plaything.

    • Zetetic 1.4

      another morning. and the final united future member making a dick of himself again.

      So, do you think Key is a political idiot who didn’t anticipate the reaction to his words (the Gower hypothesis) or that he is a canny political operator who knew exactly what he was doing (the Watkins hypothesis)?

      I know I won’t get a straight answer from you.

      • Pete George 1.4.1

        I don’t know whether he planned to use those words in advance, or he just happened to use them in response to a question (which wouldn’t be surprising since he has used similar words before).

        So I don’t know the answer to your question. And I presume you don’t know either, so you choose to promote one over the other. Why?

        • freedom

          dude, Zetetic only asked what YOU think… nothing else

          by omission of a reply, you openly admit you have no opinion of your own,

      • Pete George 1.4.2

        BTW, as I have done for years I speak independently for myself here, elsewhere, and on my blogs, and not for United Future.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yes its pretty clear you only have your own barrow to push.

          • freedom

            PG has to speak on his blogs , mainly because no-one else does

            • bbfloyd

              What’s the matter little chief “bad hair”? got chased off red alert for indulging in self promotion….So now it’s back to clogging the drains here with your obsession with yourself?

              I propose the readership have a whip round to pay for little bad hair to get the therapy he needs….

            • mike e

              I think petey bouy a little Parental Guidance

    • Draco T Bastard 1.5

      How much NACT arse-licking is UF going to do? Seems to be unlimited.

  2. Lulu 2

    Key will know that the Maori Party are dead come 2014, that the Nats have good reason for “coalition anxiety” leaning as they do on Dunne and Banks, and its time to gather up NZ First voters back into the fold …

    Now that the Maori party have voted for asset sales, their political use to Key has run dry.

    • deuto 2.1

      Lulu, the Maori Party voted AGAINST asset sales, not for them – hence the close overall vote of 61 for and 60 against the passing of the MOM Bills.

  3. Jenny 3

    At first I couldn’t understand this post. I am sure that most Pakeha opponents of assett sales would welcome this reargaurd action by Maori to hold up the sell offs.

    Then I remembered that Labour used exactly the same tactic when they wanted to sell off commercial rights to the seabed and foreshore. Not just ignoring the Waitangi Tribunal as Key intends. But actually going as far as to changing the law so the government could ignore the courts of the land.

    Though Key’s tactic will leave the majority of us unmoved, I can imagine why Z might find this tactic unsettling.

    However I would like to reassure Zetetic that Key’s tactic won’t be anywhere near as successful at splitting the movement against assett sales on racial lines, as was Labour’s campaign to sell of mineral prospecting rights to the Seabed and Foreshore to Aussie sand mining companies and all the other oil and and comercial interests waiting in the wings to grab those resources and not be hindered by having to wrangel with ‘native title issues, were.

  4. Kotahi Tane Huna 4


    • deuto 4.1

      Absolutely agree! While I am a strong believer in people being able to express different opinions etc, the troll’s attempts yesterday to discredit the Waitangi Tribunal and those many groups (including the Maori Council) who sought the urgent water rights hearing were beyond the pale – and showed total ignorance of, and disregard for, the role and status of the Tribunal, history of the water rights issue, and fundamental Maori thinking.

  5. An excellent analysis and summary of the asset sales, water rights and Waitangi Tribunal issues by Joshua Hitchcock on his ‘Maori Law and Politics’ blog, including:

    What should we then make of the Prime Minister’s Comments?

    What John Key said was fairly innocuous, and have been blown completely out of proportion for political gain. With the exception of land held by State-Owned Enterprises and Crown-owned forestry land, any recommendations made by the Waitangi Tribunal are not binding on the Crown.

    This is as true today as it was in 1975 when the Treaty of Waitangi Act was passed and both Labour and National Government’s have ignored Waitangi Tribunal Reports over the decades – and will continue to do so.

    Why are the Māori Party so angry then?

    It does not hurt to every now and then express extreme displeasure with the Government as it shields you from the line of attack that you are simply the lap-dogs of the Government.

    And closes with:

    What lessons should we learn from this?

    The main lesson is that we need to start thinking a bit more strategically about the battles that we fight and the cases that we take to either the Waitangi Tribunal or the Courts. The NZ Māori Council were incredibly effective in the 1980s because they made smart decisions and took the right case to the appropriate forum. The Lands Case succeeded because it was a strongly argued case put before the Court of Appeal.

    If you want to stop something, then forget about using the Waitangi Tribunal to achieve that. It’s best role is that of discussing the impacts of policy on Māori, not as a tool to prevent Government action. If you want to stop the partial asset sales process, then prepare a strong case and take it to the High Court.

    Full post: Q&A: Māori Council Water Claim and Asset Sales

  6. Socialist Paddy 6

    Pete you keep on saying the Waitangi Tribunal has no power and therefore should be ignored. If this is so then why doesn’t the Government just cut their funding?

    It would be one thing if Key said the Government would consider any Tribunal recommendation and then make its mind up.  But he ruled out the possibility of doing something because he may not like the result.

    The Waitangi Tribunal is an advisory tribunal.  Many of its recommendations have actually been put in place.

    This is a red hearing.  If justice requires that Maori should be compensated for having their rivers and riverbeds and water taken off them then the effing PM has no right to say that he will not do this.

    • you keep on saying the Waitangi Tribunal has no power and therefore should be ignored.

      I haven’t said that at all. I agree with what you say – “The Waitangi Tribunal is an advisory tribunal. Many of its recommendations have actually been put in place.”

      Government should give serious consideration to all of it’s recommendations. I think that John Key should have said they would, and that he should say it now.

      I think it’s a shame that water rights appear to have been used to try and stop Government policy, it’s something that deserves a hearing in it’s own right, without being used as a political coercion tool.

      Read Joshua Hitchcock’s blog.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1.1

        “water rights appear to have been used to try and stop Government policy,”

        What a load of rubbish. This point has been rebutted before, but you do love your zombie arguments, don’t you weasel. Once again for the benefit of the zombie: the water rights case has been before the Waitangi Tribunal for years; it is entirely appropriate that it be prioritised since it may indeed have a profound impact on the asset theft policy.

        But if it should have the benign effect of destroying this government’s treacherous agenda, that’s even better. Now get back under your bridge.

      • You don’t get to excuse ignoring the recommendations of a furiously independent and highly expert authority like the Waitangi Tribunal with a stupid little throwaway like “trying to stop government policy”, for three reasons:

        1) This issue is way older than National’s stupid privatisation policy.
        2) The Waitangi Tribunal does not make policy decisions so is incapable of trying to stop government policy. It can recommend that the government stop because either its approach or the fundamentals of the policy are flawed, but this is not the same thing as trying to stop a policy itself.
        3) The policy in question surrenders our sovereignty, unfairly redistributes our national wealth, and it is outright theft from the commons. Even if the Tribunal were trying to stop it or at least recommend an approach that could work around this particular issue with the policy, that would not be a bad thing.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    More hilariously sad “mana-enhancing” …

    “Staff from Mrs Turia’s and Dr Sharples’ offices spent yesterday trying to find a time for them to meet Mr Key after earlier suggestions they would be seeking an urgent meeting to air concerns.

    Mr Key said Mrs Turia was “more than welcome to ring me” but his travel schedule would not allow a face-to-face meeting this week. ”


    Quiz time – Where is John Key’s travel schedule taking him today?

    1) The North Pole
    2) Disneyland
    3) er … Wellington.

    Not that Key is the prime culprit here. If Tariana ‘n Pita want to walk around wearing a T-shirt saying “Please take the piss, we’ll do nothing”, then he’s gonna. Every time.

    • McFlock 7.1

      Two points:
      a) It shows the MP as being the cap-in-hand servants they truly are;
      b) it demonstrates that Key wants to extend the wedging debate as long as possible – i.e. play the race card. Otherwise he’d pay MP the vague lipservice they need to argue that good faith has been ensured.

      • gobsmacked 7.1.1

        Exactly. Key knows his base, and he knows the Maori Party.

        And he’s relying on fools (or pretend-fools) like Herald editorial writers and PG. Looks like he’s a pretty good judge of them.

        • wtl

          To be fair, PG is only so adamant about his position because he supports asset sales. Because of this bias, in his mind anyone and anything opposed to asset sales are obviously playing politics. Anyone and anything for asset sales are obviously not playing politics but merely doing the ‘right thing’. Its actually sad how he is so obviously biased and hypocritical in his comments but still in denial about this fact.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            What “position”? He never articulates it, just waffles on about “some say” and “it appears that” and “it seems”. Take his racism, for example – he’s too gutless to come out and actually express it – but the weasel words say it all.

          • Pete George

            Correction – I strongly support the right of National to democratically progress their major policy (which of course is politics), but I only softly support the MOM – I think will be some benefits and some risks. If MOM hadn’t succeeded getting through parliament I wouldn’t have been upset.

            I, like many (I think), don’t like the much wider and more important issue of water to be encumbered by tying it so much to the MOM.

          • freedom

            a good example being today, it’s six hours and he still has not given Zetetic an answer.

            Dumb or dissing?

            A thought did strike me, maybe PG is one of those poor unfortunates who suffer cerebellum obstructus. Last year’s election results show he is not alone. He, like so many sufferers, may be blissfully unaware never realising they can ignore the primal stimulus/response impulses of the brain stem and actually use the more evolved thinking parts.

            This circumstance suggests we should be more understanding of his obvious hardship when he is attempting to form an opinion of his own. Perhaps a Telethon would help? Or some tickets to a far away land with no telecommunications?

  8. A useful addition to comment and understanding:

    Pita Sharples: Honouring our ancestors, leading with our hearts.

    There are some here who could learn something, especially about “investment into bridging relationships across Treaty partners.”

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 8.1

      The only problem with building a bridge to you is that foundations require something more substantial than hot air. I’m not surprised you like Sharples’ speech though – it’s void of anything except platitudes.

      • mike e 8.1.1

        Hey there’s a new career move for Political Groupie since he was rejected by labour and the voters of DN north he would make a good Maori party rep with all the hot air head bs and platitudes he puts forward.

  9. Sam Hall 9

    I initially thought Key had been suckered in by Rachael Smally, who is quite fetching, as he was all purtied up but i was so much younger then….

    I agree with Lulu above.

    When i first saw the picture of Key posted here, poolside,mansion ensconced, I felt disgust and it put me off the site for a day or two.

    What came to mind was heydrich, the go-to boy, an avaricious version of Nietzsche’s “blonde beast”

    And he does have well-practiced impression-management skills.

  10. Vicky32 10

    Just a wee point – using dumb to mean stupid, is not a good thing! It is bad SRV (social role valorisation) – and demeans people with various physical and communication handcaps…

  11. gobsmacked 11

    And as predictable as the tide times, there’s Key on the TV news with his prepared, snappy sound-bite:

    “Nobody owns water”. Repeated, for good measure. The 2012 version of “One law for all.”

    Is there really anybody who doesn’t understand how this is done? Or why it’s done? (Well, Labour’s media spokespeople often struggle with it … but that’s another story).

  12. Anne 12

    “Nobody owns water”. Repeated, for good measure.

    “Hey Myrtle… John Key says nobody owns water. He’s bloody right. Jeez these bloody Mouries. Why don’t they get rid of the lot of em. We don’t need em.”

    And there’s the majority red neck response in all it’s ugliness. Key played the racist card and anyone stupid enough to think otherwise (yes, that includes Patrick Gower) is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    Is there really anybody who doesn’t understand how this is done?

    There was one Labour leader who didn’t struggle with the concept. Norman Kirk. A self-made man who came from a working-class background. He called a spade a spade and was loved and revered by ordinary working men and women throughout the country. Labour would do well to emulate him – or at least a modern day version of him. They just might attract Waitakere man and his missus back to Labour.

    No, I’m not holding my breath.

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