10th May 2023
National Party leader Chris Luxon won’t work with Māori Party even if it makes him PM
National Party leader Christopher Luxon has ruled out any governing deal with Te Pāti Māori after the election – and taken aim again at what he describes as the potential “coalition of chaos” on Labour’s side of politics.
He has also confirmed he wouldn’t enter into any arrangement with Te Pāti Māori even if it was National’s sole route into government.
Luxon said on Newstalk ZB this morning that it was clear to him that National and Te Pāti Māori had fundamentally different views on many issues.
Speaking after Luxon’s call, Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere claimed Luxon was trying to scare people with the prospect of “hories” getting close to power, but he believed the National leader would want to negotiate if the Māori Party held the balance of power following the election.
Luxon made it clear that he was not just ruling out a coalition, but “any arrangement” that saw it dealing with the party – meaning cooperation and confidence and supply agreements were also off the table.
He said it was now clear that the bridge between National and Te Pāti Māori was too wide to close. They had very different views of things including co-governance, the one-person, one-vote principle and whether Treaty settlements were full and final.
He believed the party had a “separatist agenda”.
He said that meant a vote for them was for a potential Labour/Greens/Māori Party coalition – which he said would be a “coalition of chaos”.
“Te Pāti Māori of 2023 is a very different party to the one National signed a confidence and supply agreement with three times from 2008.”
In a media stand-up today, Luxon was definitive that no deal would be made between National and Te Pāti Māori, even if the party’s support would decide which of National or Labour would enter government, as recent polling has suggested.
Luxon had earlier said on multiple occasions that it was highly unlikely National would be able to work with Te Pāti Māori.
Asked why he had now decided to rule them out completely, Luxon said events from the past week had shown how the Māori Party was not adequately focused on National’s core issues such as the cost of living crisis and the struggling health system.
The events Luxon was referring to included the defection of former Labour minister Meka Whaitiri to Te Pāti Māori, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere’s resignation from the Green Party, and Te Pāti Māori leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer being kicked out of the House yesterday.
“The turning point for me has been watching an absolute perverse set of behaviours over a number of weeks now that have been focused on personnel and politics.”
Luxon was asked whether he would rule out working with Winston Peters’ New Zealand First.
Last year, Peters effectively ruled out working with Labour after claiming the party kept him in the dark over several policies while the two parties were in coalition.
Luxon gave no indication of his appetite for working with NZ First.
“New Zealand First isn’t in Parliament and we’ll talk about that another day.”
National would likely require support from the Act Party to form a government. Act and NZ First regularly disagree on issues.
Asked whether a National/Act/NZ First coalition would function well, Luxon said he would deliver a “strong National-led Government that is actually stable”.
Tamihere believed the National Party was using scaremongering tactics.
“What they’re trying to do is scare people into thinking if the hories get anywhere near the power, we’ve got problems and that’s just so untrue and it licenses people just to keep attacking us as they do.”
Despite Luxon’s comments, Tamihere was confident the National leader’s tune would change if circumstances dictated.
“I guarantee you, on October 15, if the Māori Party hold balance of power, Mr Luxon will be calling.
“He wants to be the Prime Minister as much as anyone.”
He said he was open to having a “grown-up conversation” with Luxon after the election, but said National had sent a strong message that wouldn’t be received kindly by Māori.
“This is such a tight election, it’s going to turn nasty and [Luxon] just kicked the ball off.”
Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Deborah Ngarewa-Packer have both previously all but ruled out being part of a National Government, saying they could not work with parties that did not take a Treaty-centric view – and taking aim at National’s likely governing partner Act in particular.
Ngarewa-Packer has also pointed to the drop in support for Te Pāti Māori over the time it was in government with National – which resulted in it losing all of its seats in Parliament in 2017.
It comes after a dramatic day in Parliament yesterday in which both Te Pāti Māori co-leaders were kicked out for performing a welcome for Meka Whaitiri, who had returned to Parliament for the first time since quitting Labour to stand for Te Pāti Māori.
She is currently considered an independent MP, but is sitting with Te Pāti Māori MPs, and has an office with them.
Luxon said the events in Parliament had been “a total shambles”.
“It’s a real mess. You saw a bunch of stunts and grandstanding in Parliament that just is not where the New Zealand public is at.”
He took aim at the problems on the left, such as the resignation of Elizabeth Kerekere from the Greens and Whaitiri from Labour.
He said New Zealand deserved a government that was focused on the economy.