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