National | Andrew Little

Andrew Little back-tracks on comments about Māori sovereignty

It's the first day back in the House for MPs and it seems there is already some back-tracking going on.

Already the leader of the Labour Party, Andrew Little, is back-tracking on comments he made last week about Māori sovereignty.

Last week he was all for it, but this week, it's a different story. He made a big call, but it seems Little was all talk.

“It’s not about abandoning what we have now, but it is about what we've always done with the Treaty, rise up and talk about that,” says Little.

John Key has been quick to stomp out any idea of self-governance by Māori, and used Tūhoe and Te Urewera as an example of working together.

“We give them a certain amount of resources and we agree to the contract and they go away that is very different from saying they are outside the rules. They can self-determine the rules, that’s not the case with Tūhoe,” says Key.

Last year the Waitangi Tribunal reported that signatories to Te Tiriti o Waitangi did not cede sovereignty to the Crown, and some say Key is turning his back on that decision.

“In November, the Tribunal released their report, but the PM and Chris Finlayson seem to be ignoring it, so I think it's good to have these discussions,” says Peeni Henare.

Kelvin Davis says “Yes, it's good for us to have these discussions to really flesh them out. But I think the PM is scared to even touch the subject.”

So for those iwi wanting to settle claims and claim sovereignty, under this government, it looks highly unlikely.

Key says, “It’s really a contract that the government has with them and their administration. The contract is way different to ceding sovereignty.”

Little says, “He’s playing a political game, saying separatism. The lesson we've learnt over the last 175 years is you can’t just ignore things raised under the Treaty.”

So Andrew Little says discussions must continue, but is shutting the door on any talk of Māori sovereignty.