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Q+A: Tariana Turia interview transcript

Published: 11:35AM Sunday November 27, 2011 Source: Q+A

GUYON ESPINER
So, Tariana, we'll get to asset sales in a second, but firstly, and more broadly, do you consider the Maori Party a crucial part of this next National-led Government?

TARIANA TURIA - Maori Party Co-Leader
Well, I think it will depend on the special votes. I mean, at this point in time they've got enough votes themselves to govern alone with the other two.

GUYON So what's the likely position, then? Are you likely to join as a minister again and give that confidence and supply support?

TARIANA Well, we've got to decide that. We've got to meet today to talk about what our position is going forward, but, more importantly, we do go back to our electorates to talk with them as well to see what it is that they would expect us to do. The message in the past is you can't make the gains unless you're sitting at the table of the government, and we took that into account last time. Who knows what their situation will be this time, uh, because we lost a lot of votes.

GUYON So is it a finely balanced call for you?

TARIANA Well, it always is because we've got people from one end of the spectrum to the other. We're not a left or a right party. And within Maoridom, we've got people with huge assets, and we've got people who have got nothing.

GUYON You talk about needing to be at the table to make the gains. What are those gains that you want? What are your priorities should you go into a relationship again with the National Party? What do you want?

TARIANA Well, the first time round, I think we were quite politically naïve. We were new. We'd never been engaged in negotiations prior to that, and so we went for some short-term gains, I believe, even though Whanau Ora was a long-term gain for our people. This time we'll be looking at some structural change, because we think that in the end, that's where we'll get the most gains. Because if you go for short-term gain, you don't really change anything.

GUYON What do you mean by structural change? Do you mean the constitutional review? What do you mean?

TARIANA Well, the constitutional review will continue this time through, but we're looking at the role of Te Puni Kokiri and whether that should be transformed into something quite different. We're looking at a Treaty Commissioner. We think the government should be held to account - all their agencies in terms of our people. So those are two things in particular that we'll be looking at this time through.

GUYON Can I flip this around - what would you gain from being in Opposition?

TARIANA Well, nothing.

GUYON So it's case solved, isn't it?

TARIANA Well, that's for our people, as I said, to decide that. We would hope that they would be looking at politics quite differently to how they have done in their voting pattern this time.

GUYON Just to close this up - asset sales. Will you try to block the asset sales programme? What is your position?

TARIANA Well, we've always been quite clear that we were opposed to the asset sales because we believe that New Zealanders own the assets now. What we've got, of course, though, is iwi saying to us, 'If asset sales is put onto the table and it looks as if it's going to go through, we expect to be big players in that.'

GUYON So could you vote in a Budget including what they call the mixed-ownership model as long as iwi were given a good crack at it?

TARIANA Well, we weren't expecting them to be given a priority, but I have attended a number of hui where they are saying that collectively, if they come together, they could be major players and hold those assets in NZ.

GUYON All right. We better leave it there, Tariana Turia, but thanks very much for joining us this morning.

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