There is friction this week between National and the Maori Party over Iwi interests in water rights and Prime Minster John Key’s unforunate comments re the Waitangi Tribunal. To be fair, Key didn’t say the Government would ignore the Tribunal, simply that its decisions were non-binding on the Crown. However as Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia have rightly pointed out – the timing of the comments at the beginning of the Tribunal’s hearing on this issue were not helpful. The Tribunal and the process it oversees deserves the respect, if not always the agreement of the Crown.
However the issues here run deeper than water and the Waitangi Tribunal. The Maori Party’s discomfort with the partial sale of state owned enterprises is the underlying driver of this week’s friction. In a sense two different world-views are running up against each other. One which seeks a balanced budget in the near term. The other which looks beyond both economics and political cycles to generational stewardship. One is reminded of Cornwall Park and Sir John Logan Campbell.