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Maori King's Change of Heart Significant

Andrew Little appears to have alienated many within his own Party by his brusque dismissal of the importance of the change of heart indicated by King Tuheitia's at the weekend. Regardless of the role of Tukuorairangi Morgan in this, following his appointment as President of the Maori Party, Labour can simply not afford to lose any of the seats it currently holds in this space - hence the disquiet.

And likewise the agitation indicated by Winstone Peters at the move by the King inasmuch as it could well remove his ability to negotiate as king-maker following next year's Election. It will certainly change the landscape as the allegiance between Marama Fox and Hone Hariwira takes shape, and Te Urouroa Flavell begins to look more and more irrelevant - his coolness in face of the Tuku/Hone/Marama move was obvious.  

Richard Harman nails another aspect in this week's Politic

However the King’s comments are a potential embarrassment for Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP, Nanaia Mahuta whose father, Sir Robert Mahuta, was the adopted brother of the late Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

She was demoted in Labour's reshuffle last year, and Kelvin Davis was made lead spokesperson on Maori Affairs.

Since then little has been heard from her and some of her colleagues complain that she doesn’t seem committed to her role.

But speculation that she could join the Maori Party may be wide of the mark.

She has clashed with Morgan in the past over the governance of Tainui, and there is said to be personal antipathy between the two of them.

Though Morgan sometimes seems closer to the Mana Party regarding his own personal politics he has enjoyed good relations with the National Government, particularly the Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.

But what will please National is that is increasingly looking likely that the Maori Party might give them an option which would mean they could exclude Peters and NZ First.

While there is support for Peters from several senior National MPs, they all recognise that the antipathy between him and the Prime Minister could make reaching a post-election deal with him extremely difficult.

The danger for the Government is that any suggestion that there is a plot to deprive him of the balance of power could drive him closer to Labour.

Were Nanaia to cut her (and her familiy's) long-standing ties to Labour, and join the Marama/Hone push, then all bets are off - Labour would find it very difficult to recover from such a blow, and a major swing to the Maori party would be under way.

Nanaia's current status within Labour does not give any confidence that she would feel any strong ties. In fact, and regardless of her alledged antipathy for Morgan, there is much to play out in this 'Dance of the Sugar-plum Fairies.' Maori politics is not for the faint-hearted. 




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