When John Key led his party to a third term victory in 2014 he warned his exultant MPs against hubris and advised them to remain grounded.
   He would do well to revisit his own advice in the case of proposed legislation that denies hard won fisheries rights to Maori and undermines property rights for all New Zealanders.
   In hard hitting full page advertisements in The New Zealand Herald and the Waikato Times yesterday, the Maori fisheries trust Te Ohu Kaimoana asked: When is a deal not a deal?
   It answered: When it’s a Treaty settlement with Maori.
   “In 1992, Jim Bolger’s National Government signed the Sealord deal – a full and final Treaty Settlement returning and guaranteeing fisheries rights to Maori,” TOKM said.
  “Today, a different National Government is reneging on that deal by confiscating the rights of Maori (and all New Zealanders) to undertake sustainable fishing in the Kermadec region, forever.
  “Maori exercise conservation in the Kermadec region. We have taken measures to protect the biodiversity. Yet, we are being punished.
  “Environment Minister Nick Smith does not consider the Government needs to honour the agreements made only a generation earlier. Our country can and should have both – protection of biodiversity and full, final and durable Treaty settlements. 
  “Don’t let the Government renege on its promises. Treaty settlements must be upheld for the honour of all New Zealanders – Maori and Pakeha.”
  Both Maori, through TOKM, and industry, via the Fishing Industry Association, have lodged High Court challenges against the unilateral move to establish the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary covering 620,000 sq km, which was announced by Mr Key at the United Nations. The policy was prepared in secret, restricted to a handful of officials and ministers, and was not consulted on.
  Meanwhile the enabling legislation has been through the select committee process and reported back to Parliament without regard to the property and settlement rights that are being abrogated.
  The committee did make a token change. It added a Maori name to the sanctuary title – Rangitahua (Raoul Island).
  Labour and the Greens, to their credit, objected to the process followed but still supported the legislation.
  The Government, focused on winning an unprecedented fourth term, sees the Kermadecs sanctuary as a vote winner.
   Those most affected support ocean conservation too and moved at their own initiative a decade ago to ban trawling in the vast area and much else of the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone – 30 percent in total.
  And while New Zealand fishing interests will be excluded from surface longlining for valuable species like tuna, a huge Chinese fleet continues to hoover up migratory species on the fringes of the EEZ.
  Some illegally fish within our waters. Two Chinese flagged vessels have been sprung committing serious fishing violations by our air force and navy and thinking that is an isolated incident is probably as naïve as rugby managers expecting their players will behave like Rotarians in the presence of a nude woman.
The treatment of Maori and industry over the Kermadecs and the high handed undermining of Treaty and property rights is a slow burning fuse that may well bite this Government.
  It just needs to look to the previous Clark Government and its flawed approach to the foreshore and seabed debate, which ruptured the near century-long political bonds between Labour and Maori and spawned the Maori Party, as an example.