John Key and the Pita promise

The media gets its teeth into the question of whether or not National really intends to abolish the Maori seats

Word on the street is that the question of just what John Key promised Pita Sharples has finally reached boiling point, with Pita Sharples repeating on Alt TV last night his claim that the National leader gave him a nudge and a wink that National will not abolish the Maori seats without Maori consent.

Key has on several ocassions now denied giving Sharples such an assurance, but now Maori Party chief of staff, Harry Walker, says he was in the room and is "absolutely" certain that Sharples' recollection is accurate.That's been in enough to stir the TV networks into action and supposedly they're all over the story today.

Apart from playing into Labour's hands on the issue of trust, it raises the tensions between the Maori Party and National, despite all public sweet-talk that the pair would make wonderful coalition partners. It does make you wonder whether Sharples is less keen on a deal with National than his co-leader Tariana Turia.

We'll have some real insight on that point in a post this afternoon from Alt TV's Martyn Bradbury, who's been looking into the Maori Party's coalition quandary.