Roughan gets it

in the Herald:

A week ago, when the votes were in and didn’t need the , a deal didn’t seem to me to be worth doing. How wrong I was.

If this deal can be done it will be the better because neither side needs to do it.

Exactly. It is more durable and genuine when it is unforced.

The Maori’s choice this week was National or nothing, which are both serious options. If National is offering next to nothing Maori might do better to wait. What’s another three years after 168? I bet that was said at all the hui held these past few days.

And I’ll bet something else: if National’s offer is accepted , the reasons that persuaded the hui will have little to do with the positions and portfolios agreed with John Key. The decisive reason will be the Maori leaders’ reading of National’s new attitude.

And more specifically John Key’s attitude. He has spent a long time building up a constructive relationship with the Maori Party, supported by his MPs.

It will have to be a radically new attitude for the National Party.

Roughan may be surprised by how keen rank and file activists are for a deal also.

My guess is they will have made it very clear they are not content with a relationship in which they are given a couple of self-contained responsibilities in Maori Affairs and Social Welfare and left alone with them.

They are more likely to want an assurance of being treated as an equal partner in all major decisions the Government will make.

That does not mean a right of veto but it does mean they are brought into the discussion, their viewpoints are taken seriously, disagreements respected, and each side makes genuine and strenuous efforts to reach decisions that satisfy both.

I guess the combined Maori Caucus of 11 MPs could play a role also.

No agreed formula of words is sufficient to make that sort of arrangement secure. Its success will depend completely on the heart of the more powerful partner. Key and his Cabinet will have to genuinely want this partnership and even be excited by it.

They should be excited. They have on their table a historical opportunity such as no incoming government has been given. They could be the authors of a constitutional precedent that will do more for the social wellbeing and national identity of New Zealand than they can yet imagine.

Okay, now John’s getting a bit too excited. 🙂

But indeed it is a future with some promise.

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