Turia refuses to visit Waitangi marae
Tariana Turia (Photo: Victoria Evans)
Annual clashes at Waitangi have driven Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia away from attending commemorations, while Prime Minister John Key will be walking into a tribal spat when he arrives at the lower marae.
Political leaders will begin arriving at Waitangi today, ahead of events at Te Tii Marae on February 6 to commemorate the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by representatives of the crown and Maori chiefs.
Annual drama involving the family of Mana Party leader Hone Harawira - including his mother Titewhai Harawira and nephew Wi Popata - has become a symbol of Waitangi Day events.
Mrs Turia is refusing to attend after being pushed around roughly a few years ago, RadioLIVE reports.
"People kind of build the angst leading up to Waitangi and quite often it's not even the people from the north, there's people from all over the country who come there with all their anger over what's happened in the past," she says.
Mr Key will walk straight into a battle between marae elders after they decided Mrs Harawira will not lead him on to the marae this year.
Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua told Fairfax that trustees will appoint their own kuia to escort guests after concerns in recent years over Mrs Harawira's behaviour.
Mrs Harawira - who famously made former Prime Minister Helen Clark cry in 1998 after challenging her right to speak on the marae - slammed Mr Taurua's comments, maintaining she will be involved this year.
The spat might mean two kuia will lead Mr Key on to the marae.
Despite a ban on protests, Waitangi Day at Te Tii Marae is set to be fiery with the Maori water rights claim over the Government's asset sales continuing in court.
Mr Key has kept tight security after being shoved around by Mr Harawira's nephews Wi and John Popata in 2009, while in 2012, protests over deep sea oil drilling meant he was unable to speak on the marae.
The Popata brothers say they won't be attending this year but some locals think they may change their minds.