4 May 2009

PM believes Maori Party delegation not going to Fiji

7:29 pm on 4 May 2009

Prime Minister John Key says he understands Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples will not be seeking a meeting with Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama.

Fiji has been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum for failing to meet a deadline to set an acceptable election date.

The military government, led by Commodore Bainimarama, has extended emergency regulations until 30 June.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said on Sunday that Dr Sharples was keen on taking a small delegation to Fiji to talk to Commodore Bainimarama.

However, Mr Key spoke to Dr Sharples on Monday and said it is his understanding that Dr Sharples would not be going to Fiji.

Mr Key said the Government and the Maori Party would like to see a resolution to the situation in Fiji, but the Maori Party recognises it is important that New Zealand speaks with one voice on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Maori Party is declining to elaborate on comments by Mrs Turia that it favoured sending a delegation to Fiji.

Mrs Turia told a Television New Zealand current affairs programme on Sunday that New Zealand should be talking with Fiji, rather than taking its current stance.

She said Dr Sharples was very keen on using New Zealand leadership by taking a small delegation, including the Maori king, to talk with Commodore Bainimarama.

Mrs Turia said there was a misunderstanding about what Commodore Bainimarama was trying to achieve in Fiji.

But a spokesperson for the Maori Party later said it was just an idea that had been discussed in caucus.

A spokesperson for Maori King Tuheitia Paki said he knows nothing about the proposal.