Winston Peters accuses Māori Party of dragging King Tuheitia into politics

New Zealand First MP Winston Peters says King Tuheitia has been dragged into politics by the Māori Party. It follows after King Tuheitia sent a letter to five iwi pledging his support to get their treaty claims settled quickly.

Peters believes this letter from King Tuheitia suggests the Māori Party has a hidden agenda.

“What it does suggest and sadly so is that the Kingitanga has been dragged into politics and the Māori Party in particular because of the Māori Party's new president.”

But the Māori Party disagrees.

Māori Party Co-Leader Marama Fox says, “That's an envious statement. The King Movement was actually derived from politics.”

The Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell says, “Those are the King's views and it's nothing new to me. He seems to be concerned about the opposition some may have toward Taranaki, Manawatū, and others. We too have those same concerns.”

King Tuheitia sent the letter to Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Ngāruahine, Rangitāne ki Manawatū and Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa pledging to do what he can to help the iwi get their treaty claims settled quickly.

Peters says, “This is seriously unfortunate and this is not what the Kingitanga used to be about or what his predecessor was about who was a highly esteemed queen who was above the ruck of everyday politics that’s important into the future and I’m seriously sad to see that it's being compromised now.”

The Office of Treaty Settlements says the third and final readings of the bills were delayed due to a technical matter raised by NZ First. The Māori Party accused NZ First of showing disrespect to iwi who had already made travel plans.

“We're not gonna stand by and see hapū cheated and denied what they own and what the local people have kept the land war and all those years for because some brown bureaucracy decided to replace what’s been going on and use the Māori names in terms of their own advantage,” says Peters.

Flavell says, “What the King does is for the benefit of Waikato-Tainui and in fact the country. It's not my place to tell him what to do.”

The Māori Development Minister says he's willing to meet with King Tuheitia to discuss the issue but is still awaiting a reply from Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson.