Don’t send a gunboat – send the king

Looks like the Maori Party is trying to insinuate Maori leaders – including the Maori king – into New Zealand’s diplomatic service.

Co-leader Tariana Turia has proposed a team of Maori heavyweights play a role in sorting things out with that Barmy Banana bloke by talking with the bugger.

Turia says she wants to send a delegation to Fiji to meet the country’s military leader, saying she believes he has good intentions in proposing electoral reform and deserves a hearing.

Mrs Turia said on TV One’s Q&A yesterday that her party had discussed sending Maori leaders to Fiji, which was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum on Friday after failing to commit to holding elections this year.

She later told the Herald: “We have felt that there may be a better way forward. I know from people in Fiji who have spoken to me in the last year that [Commodore Bainimarama’s] intention was good. So we’ve got ourselves all locked up in this notion of democracy but we don’t expect it of other trading partners.”

She had not raised the issue with Prime Minister John Key and said the participation of her co-leader Pita Sharples, the Maori Affairs Minister, in any delegation would depend on Mr Key’s approval.

Mrs Turia told Q&A that the delegation could include Dr Sharples, Maori King Tuheitia and Ngati Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu.

Alf noted with a certain bemusement that the King and te Heuheu were among the Maori claque who were in New York last week to help welcome Helen Clark to the United Nations.

To what purpose?

To project themselves on to the world stage, perhaps, as is evidenced by the Maori Party proposal to have them play other diplomatic roles.

The Boss quite rightly pointed out that the Government wouldn’t stop anybody – including the leaders of the Maori Party – from going to Fiji in their individual capacity. But he would not agree to any delegation representing the Government.

“The Government is going to continue holding its negotiations through the behalf of the Pacific Forum leaders,” he said. “The reason for that is that the decision to suspend Fiji from the forum was made by a collective group of leaders.”

Fair enough. Barmy Banana knows what he has to do to have his country brought back into the forum.

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