November 26 2014, updated 3:56pm

Key expects Waitangi protests

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 17:49 03/02/2014
waitangi
Fairfax NZ

Waitangi Day protests in 1983.

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Prime Minister John Key says he is expecting confrontation at Waitangi this year, with two protests timed to coincide with his arrival.

New Zealand's political leaders including Key will be welcomed onto Te Tii Marae on Wednesday for the annual Waitangi Day celebrations.

Waitangi has seen a number of confrontations between Maori and political leaders, including former National leader Don Brash being pelted with mud in 2004 and Titewhai Harawira making former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark cry when she wouldn't let her speak on the marae in 1998.

Key said he was not expecting this year to be without incident, adding "it is Waitangi after all".

At least two hikoi - one focussed on deep sea drilling - were timed to coincide with is arrival, he said.

"You always have a group of protesters there who want to make a lot of noise while the cameras are on," he said.
"It's a bit sad... but that's the way it operates."

Key said people were free to protest but said the Northland region had some of the poorest economic conditions in the country and mining would help address that.

"Personally I think it would be a great thing for Northland."

Key also said he expected to be accompanied onto the marae by Harawira, the veteran activist and mother of Mana leader, Hone.

Last year Harawira caused a high-profile stir when she refused to concede to the wishes of marae elders for another kuia to accompany Key.

In the end a compromise was reached and Key had two escorts, including Harawira.

At Waitangi, Key will also attend a sunset service with the Navy and attend the Iwi Leader’s Forum.

Keys said he would use his annual speech to highlight what his Government has done for Maori including the number of Treaty of Waitangi settlements reached.

"We've signed 41 deeds of settlement since coming to office in 2008, and virtually all iwi willing and able to settle are engaged with the Crown," he said.

"We picked up the pace because we believe it's in everyone's interest to have this process complete.”


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