Is the interminable tangled mess of the foreshore and seabed issue getting to Chris Finlayson? Something certainly is, because he’s clearly losing it:
Minister tells Maori protesters: ‘Go to hell’
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson has told a Maori protest group in the Northland town of Taipa they can “go to hell”. …
The group said the land, which is council owned, should be returned to Ngati Kahu, and have demanded Finlayson meet them in Taipa. Finlayson had a fiery response to the group’s request.
“They can go to hell, because I’m not going up there,” he said this afternoon.
When asked if the protesters’ demands were unreasonable, he said: “I think they’re stupid.”
Video of the event here.
Politicians have to be careful about letting their temper rule their tongue. John Key got away with calling protesters “cold and desperate”. But Helen Clark didn’t get away with calling the leaders of a protest “haters and wreckers”. That remark arguably contributed to souring relations between Labour and Maori at a crucial time in the foreshore and seabed negotiations.
Now Finlayson has risked the same response. To have the Treaty Negotiations Minister tell Maori protesters to “go to hell” and that their demands are “stupid” is about as inflammatory as it gets. How is Maori leadership, wrestling with their response to the new Marine Bill, likely to respond to such a remark? Let’s hope that they show more maturity and intelligence than the Minister.
Update: Today Finlayson stands by his comments. He should be replaced as Treaty Negotiations Minister.