Alliances and good humour at Ratana
Thursday 24 Jan 2013 5:33 p.m.
There was something in the air at Ratana today, not love exactly, but what passes for it in politics.
The Maori Party leadership stopped eyeballing each other - if only for now.
Labour's David Shearer got a show of support which may suggest his own back is safe from David Cunliffe.
Mr Cunliffe admitted his ambitions have been put back in the box. He had previously refused to endorse Mr Shearer in Labour's crucial leadership vote in 10 days' time.
Today he was not so bold, but beaten into submission. Mr Shearer is now completely safe.
Education Minister Hekia Parata showed her face for the first time since last year's shocker, and a defiant Mr Key defended saving her.
“They told me to sack her, to get rid of her,” he said.
The Prime Minister says she's a "smooth communicator", and she put her hand up as an early contender for understatement of the year when she said she had "made a couple of mistakes".
Te Ururoa Flavell is trying to oust Pita Sharples as leader of the Maori Party - but Dr Sharples won this round at Ratana.
The challenge will now be dealt with at another meeting in about eight weeks, but the vultures are hovering over the Maori Party. A Ratana elder gave them a prophecy of doom unless they form an alliance with Hone Harawira's Mana Party.
Mr Shearer wouldn't rule out working with that, while Mr Key doesn't want a bar of it - though he found time for a hongi with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, and a long, friendly chat.
At Ratana, alliances are always forming. And in politics, alliances are what gives you power.