Waitangi protests 'distressing' - Sharples

  • 05/02/2012

The Maori Party is urging iwi to take the Government to court over changes to Treaty of Waitangi legislation surrounding asset sales, something co-leader Pita Sharples says is the best method of protecting the Treaty.

Dr Sharples joined Firstline this morning to discuss the legislation, yesterday’s protests and the continuing importance of the Treaty.

He says “it’s really vital to Maori that the Treaty remains with our assets and that’s the best way to do it at this stage – take it right through to court”.

Mr Key said this morning that he would be disappointed if the Maori Party left the Government coalition, but had the numbers for a stable government without them – something which Dr Sharples says doesn’t put the Maori Party under undue pressure.

“We’re not over anybody’s barrel, we’re making a stand,” he says.

“We’re doing it with the support of iwi, and we’re doing it with the support of the Maori Council and people generally.

“To give up the gains that you can have, as ministers, for your people, is a big thing to do.”

Yesterday’s Waitangi celebrations were marred by protestors, who shouted insults – including “Traitor” at Dr Sharples during his speech.

Dr Sharples says “the most distressing thing” about the protests was the “desecration” of Maori culture and tradition.

“There were the elders, standing up doing a formal tikanga custom… and they just shouted right through it,” he says.

“Most marae, they would come down like a ton of bricks on that.”

The protests also “amazed” Dr Sharples as the Maori Party is fighting for the issues the protestors support.

“Here we are putting our whole job on the line over this cause that they’re fighting for as well, and yet they’re using those sort of terms like we’re a sellout… I can’t think of any more I can do than put my job on the line.”

Watch the video for the full interview

3 News

source: newshub archive