Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Q+A: Shane Taurima interviews Te Ururoa Flavell

Sunday August 26, 2012
Q+A: Shane Taurima interviews Te Ururoa Flavell
Maori Party MP says “it’s not acceptable” for National to breach the Treaty of Waitangi by pushing ahead with partial asset sales.
Flavell says National must delay its sales programme.
Taurima: “Doesn’t that mean John Key must defer… What do you think?”
Flavell: “I think that’s fair. As a party we’ve always said we’re against the state assets [sales]”.
Expects government will negotiate rights with Iwi leaders, Maori Council and other claimants.
Backs Waitangi Tribunal view on water rights, not National’s: “They [Waitangi Tribunal] have found that there are some issues here in terms of confirming those rights, so I think we need to stay with that line”.
“We do have proprietary rights as confirmed by the Waitangi Tribunal.”
Maori Party hopes to meet with senior ministers next week to find a way to bring concerned parties together “so there isn’t a breach”.
Flavell doesn’t want to see the matter go to court: “Far better that we have discussion” than one winner from court battle.
“Hopeful” of a deal before the end of the year; “way too early” to say Mighty River Power sale will have to be delayed until next year.
“There’s a lot at stake” so best to keep talking, using platform created by the Tribunal’s report.
Believes there can be a “win-win” solution.
Tribunal has “set the platform” and “given us a way forward”.
Backs Tribunal’s recommendation of a hui amongst Maori claimants and leaders to establish unified position.

Q + A – August 26, 2012


Interviewed by SHANE TAURIMA

SHANE Kia ora, Te Ururoa Flavell. Thank you for joining us.

Tena koe.

SHANE The tribunal says Maori have ownership rights. John Key says nobody owns water. Who is right?

MR FLAVELL Well, I suppose that’s going to be determined shortly. I mean, the Waitangi Tribunal report gave us a good start to affirm, and I suppose if you want to take it that the tribunal is an advisory body, in one sense, to the government, then they’ve investigated it, they’ve found that there is some issues here in terms of confirming those rights. And so I think we need to sort of stay with that line.

SHANE What is your position, Te Ururoa Flavell? Do you think that Maori have ownership rights?

MR FLAVELL I think that we do have proprietary rights, as confirmed by the Waitangi Tribunal, but it’s not my decision. I’m simply an MP in Parliament whose role, as a part of the Maori Party, is to try and work with the government and the parties and the claimants in this case to try and work our way forward to the issues that we have to face.

SHANE So John Key is wrong?

MR FLAVELL Well, he’s identified his position; the tribunal’s identified their position. No doubt there’ll be people throughout the country who have a different position. That’s just the way it is. But the important thing is that the tribunal gave us a way forward, and that is to get all the parties in the room, sit down and have the discussion, rather than go to court, because in that regard, probably, you know, there’s only going to be one party that wins. Far better that we have discussion, calling in the claimants, calling in the other parties and indeed the government to the table and work things through.

SHANE So also part of the tribunal’s plans is that it says the government must defer its plans to sell state assets sales and work out with Maori how those rights are recognised. Is that your expectation?

MR FLAVELL I think so. As far as I’m aware, the Maori Council are aware that we’re attempting to pull together the claimants, including the Maori Council, to the table. We’re also aware that the Iwi Leaders Groups are also having a meeting in September, and we are looking to have a meeting with the Prime Minister and senior ministers in a short space of time – in fact, in the next week, if timetables can match up – to try and get to some point where we do get around the table all the parties together—

SHANE But you’ve heard what John Key has said in recent weeks, and you’ve seen the polls – positive polls. What makes you think he’ll listen now?

MR FLAVELL Well, what makes me believe that he will listen is the sense that we had an agreement the last time that that we met—

SHANE To meet.

MR FLAVELL ...over this issue to meet and to bring the parties together. Firstly, that he’d discuss the issues with us as the Maori Party. Secondly, that we’ve already had a meeting with representatives of both the claimants and the Maori Council to put some cards on the table. Thirdly, I think that there's an acceptance that there's a lot to discuss, there's a lot at stake, and therefore it would be appropriate to maintain dialogue.

SHANE The tribunal says if the government refuses – if they refuse and proceed with the sale of Mighty River Power – it will be clear breach of the treaty. Are you happy to support a government that would do openly such a thing?

MR FLAVELL We’ve made our stance pretty clear that we want the process of law to follow its course. The tribunal did very well in pulling up this report – 400-and-something pages in a very short space of time – that set the platform for moving forward into the future, and I think that it’s important for all the parties to continue the dialogue. That’s what would be required, and I suppose that, as Sir Taihakurei Durie has already commented on, if it isn’t, then the inevitable result will be a court case.

SHANE But surely you don’t need— With respect, Te Ururoa Flavell, surely you don’t need another meeting to be able to tell us today that a treaty breach is simply unacceptable?

MR FLAVELL What the tribunal has done is given us a starting point, Shane, for further discussion. They’ve given what most people have accepted has been what was going to be an inevitable conclusion to the discussion in terms of confirming property rights. Now the next question is, well, what happens from here? And that’s the key question – what happens in terms of the sale of the state-owned assets and in particular Mighty River Power? There's a lot at stake here. Therefore it’s incumbent on all parties to take a bit of time out, consider the recommendations from the tribunal, but more importantly set up a platform for moving forward into the future

SHANE But let me ask you the question again – surely you don’t need more dialogue from here on to be able to tell us this morning that a treaty breach is not acceptable. That’s what the tribunal has said. It has said if the Crown does not halt its plans, it will be clearly in breach of the treaty. Is that acceptable?

MR FLAVELL Well, it’s not acceptable, but what the bottom line is that we’ve been given a report to say if it happens – and what I’m saying to you, in terms of a political context, is that it is therefore important for us to pull the parties together to continue the dialogue to ensure there isn’t a breach, if that’s what happens.

SHANE So doesn’t that mean that John Key must defer?

MR FLAVELL Well, that’s the suggestion, certainly, from the tribunal. And we’re saying at this point in time—

SHANE And for you? What do you think?

MR FLAVELL Well, I think that’s fair. I think that we’ve already, as a party, we’ve said that we’re against the state assets, but our role in this whole scenario is to try and make sure that the doors are open to continue dialogue with claimants and our people to work towards positive outcomes. It’s in no one’s interests to have everyone back up against the wall and take an opposition approach. The bottom line is that we need to work towards a positive outcome where everyone can move forward and, in a sense, have win-wins for everyone.

SHANE And how long do you think this will take? It’s taken many years to get to this point. Are you confident that a deal could be struck between the government and Maori by the end of the year?

MR FLAVELL Well, that’s the hope. It’s not for me to say. The bottom line is— As I say, our approach is to try and get the parties in the room. The bottom—

SHANE Which you have achieved.


SHANE Which you have achieved.

MR FLAVELL Well, it’s a starting point—

SHANE So my question to you is are you confident that a deal could be struck by the end of the year?

MR FLAVELL I’d be hopeful. That’s the best I can leave it at, because in the end, it will be up to the claimants to, I suppose, believe that their interests are going to be protected, and also there's a part there to be played by people like the Iwi Leaders Forum that have had ongoing dialogue with the government agencies for at least the last year or so. It’s important for them to have their space and time, and they will talk for themselves. It’s not for me to talk for them.

SHANE So we could safely assume, therefore, that Mighty River Power won’t be up for sale until next year. How will that affect the sale or do you even care?

MR FLAVELL Well, I think we’re going a little bit fast there, Shane. Let’s let the discussion go ahead first before we get to that point in time. There are all sorts of things that might mean that various parties cut out and say, “That’s enough. Let’s go to court.” Or on the other side, “We’re going to go ahead with the sales straight away.” I think it’s way early to start talking about what could happen in the next year or so. Let’s just wait up a little bit, take a little bit of time out, let the parties consider the outcomes of the report and, if it means meetings after meeting after meeting to try and find a conclusion, so be it. I mean, the tribunal has already suggested that it is important that Maoridom have a hui in the first instance to get some sort of collective view about their approach. I think that’s the way to go.

SHANE And there we must leave. Te Ururoa Flavell, thank you very much for joining us.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The SFO’s Investigation Of New Zealand First

On one level. New Zealand First has been the agent of its own misfortune. The New Zealand First Foundation handling the donations at the centre of the Serious Fraud Office investigation was reportedly (a) authorised by the NZF party’s board and (b)the money was apparently used to finance the party’s activities. Yet the disclosure trail remained opaque. According to its critics, NZF can’t have it both ways: it can’t claim that the foundation and the party were entirely separate legal entities, and then go to court to try and block the SFO from releasing its findings because of the likely impact on the party’s electoral fortunes... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Whether This Election Is Already A Foregone Conclusion

Currently, this election looks like being a no contest. The weekend’s Newshub poll has the centre left enjoying a roughly 57-36% lead over the centre right. Labour is on 50.1% and the Greens 6.5%, while National remains in the dreaded 20s at 29.6% More>>


Serious Fraud Office: Files Charges In Relation To NZ First Foundation Donations

The SFO has filed a charge of ‘Obtaining by Deception’ against two defendants in the New Zealand First Foundation electoral funding case. The charges were filed on 23 September. The defendants have interim name suppression and so cannot be named ... More>>


Economy: Business Leaders’ Confidence Tanks As Top Kiwi CEOs Vent Their Frustrations

The New Zealand Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom 2020 Election Survey has been released with top business leaders saying New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery is in peril – and they want a decisive role with Government in the country’s future. The annual ... More>>


Poll: Newshub-Reid Research Poll Shows National Rising But Labour Still Governing Alone

With less than three weeks to go, Labour remains in a position where it could govern alone in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll* on 50.1% - down 10.8 percentage points. National has risen slightly to 29.6% (up 4.5 percentage points), but even with the ... More>>


Government: Taking Action To Reduce Waste And Plastics

Phase out single use and hard to recycle plastics by 2025 Create a $50m Plastics Innovation Fund to develop alternatives Standardise kerbside recycling The Labour Party is taking the next step in removing plastic rubbish from our oceans and environment ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Leaders Debate

Do political debates change voter intentions, and cause voters to switch sides? According to a 2019 Harvard Business School study conducted across 61 elections in nine countries involving 172,000 respondents, the answer would seem to be a resounding ... More>>


Dunne Speaks: The Election Campaign Just Grinds Slowly On And On

With just over three weeks until the General Election, the release of the first major pre-election opinion poll this week confirmed what was already being reported about this year’s campaign. Although the gap between Labour and National has narrowed ... More>>

Electoral Commission: Candidate And Party Lists Released

17 registered political parties and 677 candidates will be contesting the 2020 General Election Nominations have now closed and the Electoral Commission has released the electorate and party list candidates for 2020 online at vote.nz . Advance voting ... More>>

National: Plan To Restore NZ’s Prosperity

National’s Economic and Fiscal Plan carefully balances the need to invest in infrastructure and core public services while also reducing tax pressure on Kiwi families and businesses. National Leader Judith Collins and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith unveiled National’s ... More>>






InfoPages News Channels