24 Sep 2008

Minister denies threatening Maori Party over Peters

9:54 pm on 24 September 2008

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia denies threatening or lobbying the Maori Party to vote against Winston Peters' censure in Parliament.

The Maori Party says its integrity has been deliberately attacked and it is disgusted by lobbying from a Government minister.

Party co-leader Pita Sharples says he was called twice by the senior minister, who urged the party to support Mr Peters during Parliament's Privileges Committee hearing into a donation to New Zealand First.

Dr Sharples says he was told there would be unpleasant repercussions for Maori if the party did not support the New Zealand First leader.

The committee found that Mr Peters did have knowledge of a $100,000 donation from expatriate businessman Owen Glenn to his legal costs regarding an electoral petition in 2005.

Mr Peters was censured in Parliament on Tuesday and criticised the Maori Party for its decision to support the committee's report. The House voted 62-56.

Dr Sharples says the Maori Party refrained from jumping to any conclusions during the privileges committee hearing and that Mr Peters has attacked the Maori Party for supporting his censure in Parliament.

Dr Sharples is refusing to name the minister, but confirmed that he regularly speaks with Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia. He says he was also lobbied by a New Zealand First staff member.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Horomia confirmed that he did have two conversations with Dr Sharples on Sunday and Monday, and the issue came up.

However, Mr Horomia says he never threatened or put pressure on the Maori Party to support Mr Peters, and only mentioned repercussions for Maori in a general way.