Marama Fox attacks NZ First MP over Treaty let-down

Marama Fox attacks NZ First MP over Treaty let-down

Hundreds of Māori from around the country have cancelled trips to Wellington to witness the signing of Treaty settlements at Parliament on Friday.

New Zealand First has pulled its support for the settlements and that move led to a tearful and angry Māori Party co-leader confronting one of its MPs during a chance encounter in Newshub's Parliament office.

"We've had tears on our phone. They've waited 30 years to bring this to Parliament. They've been dicked around enough and you buggers on a whim, on a bloody whim - you don't even care," she said as a Newshub camera filmed.

The party has also been criticised by Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson who say the five affected iwi have been let down by the "appalling behaviour".

Parties agreed to sit under extended hours on Friday to pass the Ngaruahine, Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Rangitane o Manawatu and Ngatikahu Ki Whangaroa Claims Settlement Bills.

The five settlements represent around $244 million in financial and commercial redress, though some of that money has already been paid.

But New Zealand First has now pulled its previously pledged support for the Taranaki and Te Atiawa Bills.

"This overturns a Business Committee agreement that the scheduled Bills would pass on a voice vote, with no opposition, which would have allowed all parties to have significant numbers of their caucuses away from Parliament to carry out constituent or other business on Friday."

More than 400 people had planned to come to Parliament to witness the historic signing, but now have to cancel their plans.

Mr Finlayson says with so few remaining sitting weeks left in 2016, it might not be possible to pass all the settlements this year.

"Not only does this postpone the final settlement of long-standing historical grievances, which have been negotiated over many years, but delays tens of millions of dollars of commercial and financial redress from entering the regions."

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki say they're "reeling" from the decision.

"We are beyond disappointed at the possibility that our third readings, which really are a formality to affect the already binding agreements between the Crown and our iwi, has been put in contention by New Zealand First," Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust chair Will Edwards says.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the outrage is "hysterical" from the Government.

"Messers Finlayson and Brownlee should stop their hysterical behaviour. The reality is enough MPs will have to be in Parliament to pass these Bills. That's the constitutional position," Mr Peters says.

"They are making a song and dance about New Zealand First demanding a party vote, so that the vote is recorded in the parliamentary record - Hansard.

"That's the way Parliament operates."