Wellington, May 13 (ANI): Kiwi Prime Minister John Key has come under fire for joking that Tuhoe would "have him for dinner".
"The good news is that I was having dinner with Ngati Porou as opposed to their neighbouring iwi which is Tuhoe, in which case I would have been dinner, which wouldn't have been quite so attractive," the New Zealand Herald quoted Key, as joking about enjoying a dinner at a Ngati Porou marae on the East Coast of the North Island this week.
Key's comment, made during a tourism event held in Auckland, came three days after the announcement that Tuhoe would not be given Te Urewera National Park as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.
This was despite iwi understanding a settlement was in the offing after 18 months of negotiations.
Chief Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger said Key's statement hadn't offended him, but in light of where the Tuhoe people were with the prime minister "it gives me the sense that whatever we say or do he will never, ever take it seriously."
Kruger added: "He is affirming a rigidness which is not really in the spirit of good faith negotiations. He is really going to force Tuhoe into a position that makes us look like the bad guys - like we are walking out of negotiations..." (ANI)