Saturday October 22, 2016   Last updated 07:18AM

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PM accused of racial wedge tactics in water battle

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The Prime Minister is being accused of trying to drive a wedge between Māori and Pakeha to bolster his asset sales programme.

John Key has ruled out direct negotiation with iwi on the water rights if the crown loses the High Court challenge heard this week.

He says a loss would force the Government to borrow more money for capital spending.

Mana Party vice president John Minto says it's a nasty tactic to blame Māori for the Government's refusal to spend on things like schools and hospitals.

"The whole country is opposed to the sale of these state assets, not just Māori, and Māori have quite rightly said if the Government is going to sell these assets, then our proprietary rights need to be considered. It's a particularly nasty turn of events when the prime minister is using a racial lever to pressure the court to make a decision favourable to him," he says.

Justice Ronald Young says he expects to have his judgment out before Christmas.

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