The Maori Party were formed over opposition to Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act. The legislation caused Tariana Turia to leave Labour and form a new political party. Opposition by the new Maori Party to the legislation was fierce and uncompromising.
The bill drawn up by National to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act is not radically different to Labour's law. There are some additional provisions designed to protect iwi, but the fundamentals are the same.
And yet despite the new bill not really changing the current law all that much (a law that inflamed Turia and others so much it spawned a political party), despite the bill being littered with flaws (for example, the Law Society's submission picks up dozens and dozens of drafting issues), and despite Chris Finlayson promising to amend the bill to clarify that public access is guaranteed, the Maori Affairs Select Committee has decided that the bill should proceed without any amendment at all.
Not only that, but the Select Committee reported two weeks early, leaving Labour, the Greens and ACT scrambling to get their minority reports out.
So beholden to National have Turia and others in the Maori Party become, that they now realise how important it is to get the law passed before the election. The bill may be riddled with problems, be highly contentious, and be counter to the principles that saw the establishment of the Maori Party in the first place, but both National and the Maori Party want to "move on", in the hope that the issue will settle down before the election, and that they can continue their cosy relationship after the election.
It would be nice if our politicians stood by the principles that saw them elected. But Turia is now talking about compromise, rather than holding out for a better deal. In politics everything is compromise. But when she was outside government she wasn't talking about compromise or about finding any middle ground. The original Labour law was their very raison d'être. The Maori Party compromising on this issue would be like the Greens deciding that the environment was no longer a big issue for them.
But principles come and go in politics. As Groucho Marx famously said, "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others".