So, having angered the Māori party by threatening to simply ignore the ruling of the Waitangi Tribunal, John Key is now making things worse by refusing to meet with them:
Maori Party MPs will talk to their members over their future with National as Prime Minister John Key insists he is too busy to meet the minor party co-leaders about a row over water rights till next week.This is going to take a long time to play out (the real break will come if the Waitangi Tribunal upholds Māori rights and Key makes good on his threat), but its still hard to see this as anything other than a deliberate snub. What sort of Prime Minister refuses to talk to his coalition partners? And doesn't that breach their coalition agreement [PDF], which requires consultation on significant issues?
In a show of solidarity with claimants pressing their case over water rights to the Waitangi Tribunal, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia made an appearance at the hearings yesterday and refused to offer assurances over the future of the coalition with National.
Asked if it was the most serious rift yet between National and the Maori Party, she responded: "I don't know whether I could say that, but I am really concerned about the fallout from it".
The more Key plays these games, the more he pisses on the Māori Party's mana, the greater the chance their grassroots will demand they walk.