The Maori Party is seriously considering having a role within the National Government with the idea of ministerial posts outside of Cabinet discussed on Tuesday.
National leader John Key and Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples emerged from a “very cordial” and “extremely constructive” meeting on Tuesday morning.
National has already been assured confidence and supply by ACT and United Future but Key wants to also involve the Maori Party.
“Things are progressing well,” Key told journalists, with another meeting to be held soon, possibly tomorrow.
“I thought it was a very constructive meeting where we explored quite a wide range of issues.”
That included National’s policy of scrapping the Maori seats which the minor party wants protected with entrenchment.
“All options are on the table.”
Key wanted a “consistent approach” across all three parties National is talking to.
He said there were a lot of areas where the Maori Party could work with National.
“I’ve never accepted the historical argument that the Maori Party find a more natural home with the Labour Party and could never work with the National Party.”
Dr Sharples said the Maori Party leaders would talk to its caucus about options.
He said the two parties had established a “mana enhancing” relationship.
The shift in language avoided controversy about the Maori Party having a Treaty relationship — that relationship is between Maori and the Crown.
Options to be discussed covered a broad spectrum including ministerial posts.
“It’s a whole range of issues it deals with, our policies as well as the possibility of being involved in government … clearly we want to look for some advances for Maori and that’s what it’s been about.”
Turia said consultation could be completed over the weekend.
“(It won’t take as long as) anticipated now that we don’t need to discuss an either or. Basically we are going back to our constituency to talk about what the possibilities could be.”
The co-leaders said it was early days and more talks were needed and it would not be until Monday or Tuesday that the party would have a clear idea of how to go.
Key wants arrangements finalised sooner so he can attend the Apec summit in Peru which will focus on financial problems facing the world.
He said it was possible to go ahead with finalising arrangements with the Maori Party but he preferred all three partners, if there were to be three, to be sworn in together.
Key said the Maori Party agreed going to Peru was vital.
He would need to be sworn in on Wednesday at the latest before flying out on Thursday.
Earlier Dr Sharples said it was good that even though National had a mandate to govern without the Maori Party’s support he was still willing to talk to them about playing a role.
Dr Sharples said the dilemma of having to decide between Labour and National had been removed by the decisive election result.
“It is now just a question of — should we seek gains? What are they? And should we go for them,” Dr Sharples said.
Turia said the party was in no position to make demands or issue ultimatums.
“We have been invited to their table and we respect that,” Turia said.