It’s us or them

The Herald on Sunday editorial asks a valid question…just who is running the country? The government? or Maori?

Most people were surprised when the Government postponed the part-privatisation of Mighty River Power after a Waitangi Tribunal decision. Not a few were also dismayed. Having expected the Prime Minister to plough ahead with the sales programme, they were left to ask who was actually running the country.

Worryingly, that perspective is gaining ever-widening currency, so much so that there is now good cause to consider whether a line on all Maori claims must soon be drawn in the sand.

A line certainly needs to be drawn and John Key needs to be ready with a nuclear option. That is legislation to end the silliness once and for all.

?That is not a novel notion. All the main political parties have planned to impose a time limit on the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process. They have varied only in the timing of that deadline and the caveats attached to it. Even the Maori Party has chimed in. Claims had been used by politicians to “bring Maori into contempt and ridicule by branding the process a gravy train,” said co-leader Pita Sharples in 2005. “It is, therefore, in the country’s best interests that the claims be settled as fast as possible to remove this negativeness.”

The water claim and other silliness won’t go away. And National’s?belief?that they can win in the courts is erroneous. They should just ask themselves how they have gone in court before, and look at the activist judges arrayed before them.

John Key must be prepared to legislate and then he must be prepared to fight an election on it as well.

Let’s see how that pans out for Maori?

Maori have shown that they do not see New Zealand as one nation, they see it as us vs them, and so it will be.

New Zealanders have, by and large, never resented the principle of compensation for wrongs. But as the process has dragged on, they have become increasingly agitated over the taxpayer funding associated with it. Now, that gravy-train annoyance has advanced to another plane. Many people feel the flood of Maori claims is engendering only divisiveness, and that the time has come to move on as a country.

In that context, the row over Maori water rights is shaping to be even more contentious than that over the foreshore and seabed. As much was underlined by this week’s national hui, which resolved to fund a Maori Council challenge to the Mighty River part-sale unless the Government settled issues of proprietary rights over water before the share float. Maori resolve was also reflected in King Tuheitia’s declaration that “we have always owned the water”.

Maori have been having a lend…the metaphoric Rubicon has been crossed.