The Maori Party says entrenchment of the Maori seats will be a bottom line in any post-election negotiations, casting further doubt on whether it could support a National-led government.
The party on Wednesday released its Treaty of Waitangi policy which includes entrenching the Maori seats in law, meaning a 75 per cent majority would be required to repeal them.
It is opposed to any repeal without Maori consent through either a referendum or constitutional review.
At present the seats can be repealed with a simple majority.
Co-leader Tariana Turia said on Radio New Zealand Wednesday support for a member’s bill entrenching the seats would be a bottom line in post-election negotiations.
That policy puts it at odds with National, which wants to start moves to scrap the seats by 2014, once historic treaty claims are settled.
On current polling National would be able to govern with the support of ACT, but if its support drops even a small amount it may have to cut a deal with the Maori Party which has said it is prepared to talk to both major parties.
National’s leader John Key has said its Maori seats policy is not a bottom line, but entrenching the seats would be a complete reversal.
A spokesman for Key on Wednesday said National would enter talks with other parties after the election, but would not be entering into negotiations through the media before then.
Labour leader Helen Clark said Labour was absolutely committed to keeping the seats until Maori themselves decided it was time for them to go.
As well as entrenching the seats, the Maori Party went further, calling for separate Maori representation across local councils as well as the boards of state-owned enterprises, crown companies, crown entities, crown research institutes and district health boards.
The party also wants all Maori voters to be automatically enrolled on the Maori roll once they turn 18. Those that wanted to be on the general roll would have to opt out. That is the reverse of the current situation.
The policy includes:
* a continuing commitment to try to repeal the Government’s foreshore and seabed legislation;
* acceleration of the treaty settlements process and abolition of the fiscal cap for settlements;
* a constitutional commission to draft constitutional arrangements giving effect to the treaty;
* establishment of a treaty commissioner to ensure government departments are meeting their obligations;
* requiring primary and secondary schools to teach a history of the Pacific;
* requiring immigrants to complete a course in the history of New Zealand and the Pacific as part of receiving citizenship.
Clark said debate had moved on from the foreshore and seabed issue as tribes with uninterrupted customary rights saw they could make a claim under the legislation recognising their rights.
She said the Government had worked hard to ensure Maori representation on government boards.
She also did not believe Maori should be automatically enrolled on the Maori roll.