Maori seats spat gets personal
ACT leader and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has refused to take offence after National MP Tau Henare labelled him a "buffoon" as tensions over the Auckland super city plan continue to simmer.
Mr Henare lost a fight within the National Party caucus over separate Maori seats being provided for under super city legislation, after Mr Hide threatened to resign as Local Government Minister if Maori seats went ahead.
A war of words has erupted between the two MPs over who leaked an email circulated by Mr Henare to National MPs outlining his position and accusing Mr Hide of holding National to ransom.
Told today that Mr Hide had accused him of leaking the email, Mr Henare hit back by labelling Mr Hide "a buffoon" and a "jerk-off".
Mr Hide said he would not be demanding an apology from Mr Henare.
He refused to take offence, saying he had known Mr Henare a long time - and people did not "die wondering" what the outspoken National MP thought.
Mr Henare was also scathing of Maori Party co-leader and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples calling on National MPs to cross the floor to support an amendment to the super city legislation paving the way for Maori seats.
Mr Henare questioned why he should sacrifice his career when Dr Sharples wasn't prepared to resign his portfolio over a point of principle.
"Why should I sacrifice my career when other people aren't? That's the question I put to you [and] absolutely I'm not going to. The call has been made by the Minister of Maori Affairs that we should cross the floor. Maybe he should resign."
Mr Henare said he would go along with the cabinet decision against Maori seats.
"They're the cabinet. They make the rules. We have to follow the rules."
Mr Key has said Mr Hide's threat to quit was a factor but not a dominant factor in Cabinet's decision.
"Ultimately it's been a long-held view of the National Party that they didn't want to see race-based seats in that second tier of government in New Zealand."
Labour leader Phil Goff said the process had been "a sham consultation".
A sub-committee of the special Auckland council select committee had been asked to look at the issue and Cabinet had made a decision before it had reported back.
"That makes a farce of democracy," Mr Goff said.
Mr Henare's comments showed their were splits between parties and within the National caucus on the issue.
"To get that sort of extravagant language... shows the divisions are deep," Mr Goff said.
Labour may look at amendments to the law as it progressed through Parliament to allow for Maori seats on the proposed council.
"We want to encourage Maori participation and representation within local council in an area where there has been huge under representation." Ad Feedback
Labour supported Maori seats elected from the Maori roll and not appointments from local iwi.
- with NZPA
The Dominion Post