The Maori Party has signalled that its ready to walk away from its current coalition with National if it is not listened to over the controversial Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill.
Co-leader Marama Fox said yesterday that the Government's apparent un-willingness to include Maori in the potential ocean sanctuary northeast of the Bay of Plenty "is serious enough to give us grave concern".
"There are solutions around the world that give examples where indigenous groups have fishing rights inside sanctuary areas," she said.
Months of negotiations were held between the Government and Maori seafood body To Ohu Kaimoana, but Chairman Jamie Tuuta says a satisfactory result has not been reached.
"We tried to find a way where Maori rights to fisheries could be protected and thereby allow the sanctuary to go ahead with iwi and Maori support," he said.
"We tried to find a way in which the Crown could retain its honour - instead the Crown is now turning its back."
The Government has the numbers to pass the bill unopposed, but it needs the support of the Maori Party to govern, so the government has agreed to delay the sanctuary bill while it holds last-minute crisis talks.
Environment Minister Nick Smith, however, sounded unequivocal when asked about the issue today.
"People who own quota rights do not have monopoly over sea space."