The signals are that the Maori Party is going to cave on the foreshore and seabed. National has offered a symbolic repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act while leaving the actual law essentially unchanged. At hui throughout the country, Maori have made it clear they won’t accept symbolism, they want real change. But Pita Sharples’ comment today that “Repeal was the “No 1 thing”” and Te Ururoa Flavell’s remark that “It would be disastrous if we weren’t aligned with the Iwi Leadership Group, however, we are a political movement and we have to make decisions in light of the information we have in front of us” suggest they are going to sacrifice their objectives to stay in government.
Of course, Key will chuck in a couple of minor concessions, window dressing that the Maori Party will claim as major wins. But make no mistake, if the Maori Party buys the symbolic deal that National is offering it will have abandoned the goal it was established to fight for. There will be big questions, then, over what the Maori Party is doing voting for a rightwing government to pass policies that are anathema to their values.
[Updated – It seems an agreement of some kind has been reached.]
[Updated 2: Ahh – the kind of agreement you reach when you don’t have an agreement:
It [the F&S] will instead become a public space though neither party has agreed what that should be called. Previously the government had proposed calling it “public domain”.
Still some miles to go on this road!]