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Ririnui’s Maori seats idea too little, to late

Hon Tariana Turia and Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Co-Leaders of the Maori Party

30 April 2009

Ririnui’s bright idea over Maori seats too little, too late

The Maori Party welcomes Labour's about-face on the issue of entrenching Maori seats in Parliament, and Labour's support for long-standing Maori Party policy.

The Maori Party co-leaders say, “The Maori Party policy is that the Maori seats will stay until such time Maori freely choose, via a mana-whenua referendum or constitutional review, to get rid of them. "

"We were extremely pleased that in the confidence and supply agreement, National followed this lead, and agreed “it will not seek to remove the Maori seats without the consent of the Maori people”.

Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples says "We will certainly look at Mita Ririnui's private members bill, but of course having a good idea and actually getting legislation in place, are worlds apart.

"For a start, Ririnui’s bright idea would have to be selected from a ballot of 30 or so other bright ideas, and with a full order paper already, the chances of that are fairly improbable. "

"But more importantly, the nation will be asking, if it was such a good idea, why didn’t Labour do something about it in the long nine years of its office? "

Fellow co -leader Tariana Turia says, "For nine years, they had a clear majority, and for nine years, they did nothing. In fact throughout their last term as government we continually pressed them to entrench the seats to no avail."

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“Well that cat has used up its last life, and it’s a bit late now to do another u-turn, in the bid for the Maori vote.

"Labour did nothing about entrenching the Maori seats when they had the chance. Maori people watched while Labour's Maori MPs failed to protect Maori customary rights to the foreshore and seabed, so they have been anxious for a long time. "

"Maori democratic participation deserves to be treated seriously and not as a political toy to conjure up support”.

Dr Sharples reiterates, "We must take these issues more seriously As part of our confidence and supply agreement with the National Party, the government will be undertaking a review of Maori representation, as part of a wider look at our constitutional arrangements.

"The question of entrenchment of the Maori seats is still on the table, under the Maori Party's agreement with the National Party, though not in this term of Parliament."

"The people of Auckland, who met at Orakei marae recently to discuss Maori representation on the Auckland Supercity Council, called by myself and Mana whenua leaders, noted the absence of Labour's MPs from the hui, including their MP for Hauraki Waikato, whose constituents will be directly affected by the final decisions.

Mrs Turia says, "It is good to see Labour acknowledge that it is the Maori Party's relationship with National that is protecting the Maori seats, and we look forward to their constructive participation in the government's review."


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