John Key vows to return to Waitangi
Tue, 05 Feb 2013 2:49p.m.
By Kim Choe
The Prime Minister says his reception at Waitangi has been “a step up from last year”, despite a 40-minute delay while iwi members wrangled over who would escort him onto Te Tii Marae.
John Key has also committed to returning to Waitangi in the coming years, although he told Ngapuhi members they need to think carefully about how they want to be perceived by the public in the future.
“It’s up to you how this day goes,” Mr Key said during his speech inside the meeting house on the lower marae.
He says he is happy to keep coming to Te Tii, provided he is treated with respect.
“It’s an important part of the dialogue between the Crown and Maori, but in the end if they want to do what they did to me last year – shout me down and not give me a chance to speak – fair enough, but that just doesn’t take us anywhere.”
Last year chanting protesters forced Mr Key to cut his speech short. This year he spoke inside the meeting house rather than in the public area outside.
The Prime Minister described the atmosphere inside the meeting house as “reasonably friendly”.
“It wasn’t terribly hostile,” he says. “I’ve kind of seen it all in the years I’ve been coming here as Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister. There are always going to be one or two people with a view.”
He told those gathered that they needed to have faith that New Zealanders could work together to be a better country.
“We must have a modern-day focus on what the Treaty [of Waitangi] means,” he said.
He said National had done more for Maori than any other government and was especially interested in working with Maori on education, violence and mental health issues.
‘Unpredictable nature’ of proceedings raises tensions
The arrival of John Key, several of his National MPs and Maori Party MPs was delayed by 40 minutes while Maori elders tried to diffuse a standoff at the gates to the marae between the families of Titewhai Harawira and Ania Taurua.
Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua told the pair they must share the role of escorting Mr Key, but Ms Harawira refused, prompting Mr Taurua to snap: “Shut your bloody mouth”.
“I wasn’t angry,” Mr Taurua said later. “I just told her to shut her mouth because she was going on and on and on.”
Several people tried to intervene, including Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and police Superintendent Wally Haumaha.
“This isn’t about you, this is about the country,” Supt Haumaha said as he tried to encourage the parties to reach a resolution.
Mr Key was eventually escorted onto the marae by a large group of women, with Ms Harawira directly on his left and Ms Taurua a short distance away.
He says he wasn’t concerned about who brought him on, describing Ms Harawira as “a reasonably gentle old lady”.
Mr Key says there was no correspondence between his staff and the marae about who would welcome him.
“It’s for their kaumatua to decide which kuia will take me on and which won’t,” he says.
But NZ First leader Winston Peters blames Mr Key for the stoush, saying protocol dictates the guest should have told the marae who they wanted to be welcomed by.
“When he says it’s up to the local marae, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” says Mr Peters.
The dispute continued inside the meeting house, with Titewhai Harawira’s daughter Hinewhare pushing Ngati Whatua chairwoman Naida Glavish, who had been involved in trying to broker the agreement between the two factions at the marae gates.
Ms Glavish downplayed the tensions, saying it shouldn’t foreshadow the dialogue that Mr Key was able to have with Maori once inside the meeting house.
“This is not unusual,” she says. “Often some things are debated and discussed and there’s some jostling. The focus should be on the outcome – and the outcome was a very good outcome.
Key ‘won’t have a bar’ of Waitangi Day honours
Labour leader David Shearer arrived after lunch and was escorted onto the marae by Ms Harawira alone. He was joined by MPs from Labour and the Green Party.
Mr Shearer has been proposing changing the New Year’s Day honours to Waitangi honours, to give the country “something to celebrate” on Waitangi Day.
The Prime Minister isn’t interested, saying it would be completely inappropriate.
"I'll tell you now it would politicise the process and we'll move the focus of attention completely away from those individuals to whatever particular grievance is the grievance du jour of that Waitangi day."
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6/02/2013 4:46:40 p.m.
It should not be a 'step up ... despite a delay ...' The PM and 3 News should know (by now) that lengthy 'wrangling' over a VIP indicates the status of the person. The PM should be flattered.
6/02/2013 4:49:02 a.m.
Id love to see waitangi day celebrating an honour system and taking the focus away from Titiwhai and her family dramas. Mr Key Waitangi day is already politicised and hello are you the only one not noticing the same individuals with their grievance du jour or as Hone says its his right to protest as hes local mp. Waitangi day is nothing more than a chance for the Harawiras to dominate the media and current prime minister. They play them like fools and I find it appalling to have to rehash the same scene year after year. It detracts from the true meaning of the day and makes Ngapuhi look like idiots in their own house. Year after year these people host visitors and do a great job in the kitchens, speaking, and organising for this day. One members behaviour always lets them down.
6/02/2013 1:52:05 a.m.
It's time we had a real "National Day or New Zealand day for the majority population. To refer to Waitangi Day as a national day is a joke. It is turning into a day of protest for a minority ethnic group who claim to be indigenous. Yeah right. It is not economic policy or the sunshine pay rates that drive real kiwis people off shore but the trend of calling Maori "culture" NZ culture. Natalie makes a good point earlier but should check the history of this day when first gazetted. It was to be NZ Day. The big mistake was the chosen date. Feb 6th was the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the "majority" have been writing cheques ever since! It was changed to Waitangi Day and ever since has been a day of protest for a minority who would be there at Waitangi in larger numbers but are unable to attend as they are already guests of the Crown. The way things stand it will always be a day of protest for the few and a day to consider what it has cost the majority in $ & cents, national unity and sorry image displayed to the rest of the world.
6/02/2013 12:23:20 a.m.
Maori are entitled to their own culture Natalie, grow up.
There was also a Maori Battalion in the second world war whos soldiers shed their blood for this country.
Lets not also forget that Maori were here first, so what right do you as a racist have to abolish all of their traditions?.
Should we ban Maori from being taught as europeans did originally when they were trying to destroy the Maori culture.
It amazes me how many racist pop out of the wood work on these stories reverse racism (saying maori arent entitled to embrace who they all and telling them to shut up and accept that they are the same as europeans is still blatant racism).
Tourists come to New Zealand to view the Maori sulture, watch haka's etc.
Should all those people in Dunedin who yearly celebrate their scottish heritage be kicked out of the country for doing so.
Call yourself a racist Natalie, because thats certainly what you are.
I dont see you complaining about Dunedin citizens chosing to wear kilts each year.
All I get from your comments is a pantamime of "those cheeky darkies, who do they think they are".
5/02/2013 7:44:26 p.m.
I don't think the Mr. Key should return. I don't think any New Zealanders want Waitangi Day in its current form. Lets dump it and celebrate New Zealand! We are an awesome amazing country that is in desperate need of some pride and joy! Lets celebrate and stop whining!!
5/02/2013 5:08:39 p.m.
Can't have anything better to do. I'am too busy writing to go.
5/02/2013 3:44:42 p.m.
Change the name of this day to New Zealand day instead. Everything in this country is geared toward appeasing maori radicals and their supporters.
There's no consultation with the majority of this country making a mockery of democracy. This country is all about what Iwi think and what they want, and with spineless politicians ready to capitulate save being called racist, we really are in trouble.
The treaty says about giving maori the rights and privilege of a British citizen, not partnership with the Crown as we are falsely told now.
As I type this now on our TVs they are advertising the maori of the year awards. Just imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and we had the non maori of the year award?
We have a maori party, a maori council, A waitangi tribunal (composed of very bias maori radicals),Maori rugby team and lots of other things maori. Tell there's no racism in this country?
5/02/2013 3:08:34 p.m.
You need to earn respect to be given it, and so far Mr Key you have earnt no ones respect.
King of the brain fades, owner of his own planet and friend to no ordinary kiwi.
A Marae is Maoridoms home, you go there as a political exercise to score points, you dont automatcially get respect just because you demand it.
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