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Maori Party welcomes agreement with National Party

16 November 2008

Maori Party welcomes agreement with National Party

The agreement signed today between the Maori Party and the National Party shows commitment to building a relationship of mutual respect and good faith which will benefit the nation, according to the Maori Party negotiating team.

“We are very pleased with the outcomes of our negotiations, which are recorded in this agreement,” said co-leaders Hon Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, and Party President Professor Whatarangi Winiata.

“But even more important to us has been the process of the negotiations, and the spirit in which they were conducted,” they said.

“We entered into these negotiations with one principle in mind - that if we were able to achieve a respectful relationship, a mana enhancing relationship, then anything was possible,” said Mrs Turia.

“We face difficult economic times, the causes of which lie beyond our shores. The global economic downturn will particularly affect Maori people and workers. We are determined to minimise the harm caused by the predicted recession, and we believe our approaches to social and economic development can make a difference.

“Whatever influence we can exercise will come through building relationships of mutual respect and confidence, rather than political muscle or veto powers. We believe this agreement establishes a sound foundation to build on.

“We have accepted the hand of manaakitanga extended to us by John Key and his team, and we believe that our two parties can work together for the good of the nation.”

“We welcome the National Party’s agreement not to seek to remove the Mâori seats without the consent of the Mâori people” he said. “Tangata whenua have always considered the electoral seats an important feature of constitutional status.”

“The compromise we have been able to reach, that a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act will take place, is also significant,” said Mrs Turia.

“The recognition of the wider constitutional issues around Mâori representation are also vital measures towards rebuilding our national identity,” said Professor Winiata. “The aspirations of tangata whenua, articulated in 1840 in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, have been a benchmark for nationhood long before the Mâori Party came along.”

“We think of Tainui leader, Te Wherowhero, petitioning Queen Victoria in 1847 that the Treaty be respected,” said Dr Sharples. “Northern Mâori MP Hirini Taiwhanga took Ngapuhi concerns about the loss of land and fisheries to Queen Victoria in person, and was told that power over these issues rested with the New Zealand Government.”

“Today, well over a century later, we take up their legacy” said Tariana Turia. “We remember Sir James Carroll - the first Mâori Minister, appointed Minister for Stamp Duties in 1896. We think of Tâ Apirana Ngata - an MP for 23 years before he was appointed to a Ministerial role” said Mrs Turia. “I think of my aunt Iriaka Ratana, the first Maori woman MP, and Whetu Tirakatene-Sullivan, the first Mâori woman elected to Cabinet.”

“All of these trail-blazers, our whânau, hapû and iwi, those who have walked the path before us, are in our thoughts today as we sign a historic agreement on behalf of the Mâori Party - the independent Mâori voice in Parliament,” said Dr Sharples. “That is why we are proud to sign an agreement which states explicitly that “Both the National Party and the Mâori Party will act in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi”.

"And as we have travelled the country, we have given our commitment to the people that our policy document ‘He aha te mea nui’ will continue to act as a basis for the Maori Party in driving our policy work forwards. We are pleased that our policy priorities are firmly associated with this relationship agreement".

“We acknowledge the enormous responsibilities of public office that come with the Ministerial roles, and will dedicate ourselves to doing the very best that we can, to uphold Mâori aspirations in the long term interests of the nation” said Dr Sharples.

ENDS

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