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PM makes Tuhoe cannibal joke - just a foolish man...
Prime Minister John Key has joked about Tuhoe being cannibals during a speech to a tourism audience in Auckland.
Mr Key angered Tuhoe this week when he ruled out the return of the Urewera National Park as part of the iwi's proposed treaty settlement.
The row has dogged the Prime Minister all week, with Tuhoe accusing him of betrayal and Maori Party Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia accusing the Government of acting in bad faith.
In a speech on Thursday to about 200 people from the tourism sector, Mr Key alluded to the dispute in a joke.
"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," he said, "which wouldn't have been quite so attractive."
Asked about the comment after his speech, Mr Key said he was sure Tuhoe will get the joke, but Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger says it was in poor taste, and that the relationship between the iwi and Mr Key is getting worse each day.
"I'm just astounded that the Prime Minister can make light of what we regard as a very, very serious situation regarding ... our future relationships with the Crown.
"I don't think it's becoming at all of a Prime Minister."
Tamati Kruger says Tuhoe is still waiting for contact from the Crown, following John Key's decision to rule out the return of Te Urewera.
The Maori Party MP for Waiariki, which includes Tuhoe country, says the joke is unfortunate.
"Well the first thing to say is, it's probably correct, and the second thing is (it's) probably not wise in the current climate," says Te Ururoa Flavell.
Mr Flavell says Mr Key is generally a happy-go-lucky person and uses humour in a good way, but he's underestimating the treaty discussions with Tuhoe by treating it as a joke.
The Prime Minister has defended the Government's decision on the Urewera National Park, saying vesting it in the iwi would be a step too far for most New Zealanders.
The fact of the matter is John Key is a fool and not a prime minister's backside!
Acknowledgements: Radio NZ