Titewhai told 'shut your bloody mouth' over welcoming dispute
By Kim Choe with 3 News online staff
Prime Minister John Key has been welcomed onto Te Tii Marae at Waitangi.
And while it was all quiet on the protest front, as expected his arrival wasn't without some controversy.
There was a standoff at the gates to the marae this morning between the family of Titewhai Harawira and Ani Taurua – as neither wanted to welcome Mr Key together.
Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua told the pair they must share the role.
"They will compromise, they will both take the Prime Minister on," he said.
But Ms Harawira initially refused.
To this, Mr Taurua responded: “Shut your bloody mouth”.
Mr Key was eventually escorted onto the marae by a large group of women, flanked by Ms Harawira – who was holding his hand – and Ms Taurua.
As the Prime Minister arrived, a couple of lone protestors yelled: “You don’t own it and you can’t sell it”.
In his speech in the marae Mr Key said: "I'll keep coming but it's up to you to decide how this day goes."
Shearer welcomed without incident
Labour leader David Shearer arrived after lunch escorted onto the marae by Ms Harawira alone. He was joined by MPs from Labour and the Green Party.
Ngapuhi trustees had earlier said Ms Harawira should relinquish her role of escorting Mr Key and the other officials onto the marae in favour of another elder, Mr Taurua.
Yesterday Ms Harawira welcomed Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae on to the marae, but they were interrupted by Ms Harawira’s son Aata, who had a brief scuffle with the welcoming party.
Mr Key hoped today would be trouble-free and a time of celebration.
"I think the local kaumatua are doing their best to try and make sure there's an opportunity for us to engage and say a few words,” he told NZ Newswire.
"I hope that's the case. In the end Waitangi should be a place for celebration."
But Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says he believes Mr Key will face protest from some Ngapuhi Iwi members, and he hasn't quashed speculation he may protest himself.
“This is the place where those things get raised,” he said yesterday.
“A local trustee has the right to raise them. And as the local MP, so do I.”