The Maori Party's relationship with the government is looking increasingly frosty following Prime Minister John Key's comments that the government can ignore the Waitangi Tribunal.
His comments came after the Maori Council lodged an application with the tribunal, seeking a finding that the partial privatisation of four state-owned energy companies should be put on hold until Maori claims to water ownership are resolved.
Mr Key says the government isn't bound by the tribunal's recommendations and will push ahead with its asset sales plans.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia attended the hearing's third day on Wednesday and refused to confirm her support for the National-led government, telling reporters her party's ongoing support will be decided by its membership.
"That will be a decision made by our people," she said.
However, Mr Key does not believe his comments are a deal breaker for the support arrangement.
"I didn't say I would ignore the tribunal. I said we could or might choose to do that," he told media in Christchurch on Wednesday.
"It's a statement of fact that the tribunal isn't binding on the government. I don't know what their finding will be."
Mr Key said he was more than happy to meet with the Maori Party co-leaders to discuss his comments, although he would not have time this week.
"[Mrs Turia's] more than welcome to ring me but there's nothing new in my statements. Some time ago I made exactly the same statements about water ownership. We would utterly dispute that Maori own water," Mr Key said.
Mr Key said he was hopeful the tribunal hearing would not delay the asset sales process.
The first share float - 49 per cent of Mighty River Power - is due late next month or in September.
The government has previously acknowledged that court action could delay the sale but it has rejected the Maori Council's demand for the process to be halted until the tribunal reaches a decision.
After Mighty River Power has been partially privatised the government will go ahead with share floats for Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy and coal miner Solid Energy.