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Activists abuse Key at Waitangi

JOHN HARTEVELT AND IAN STEWARD
Last updated 12:11 05/02/2011
Wikatana Popata (with loud hailer) and his small group of supporters are pushed back by Maori wardens and officials as Popata challenges John Key and his Government as they arrived for the Wataingi Day celebrations.
PETER MEECHAM
OUTSPOKEN: Wikatana Popata (with loud hailer) and his small group of supporters are pushed back by Maori wardens and officials as Popata challenges John Key and his Government as they arrived for the Wataingi Day celebrations.
He is the one responsible for killing and murdering a lot of our people. He is the one responsible for stealing our foreshore.
PETER MEECHAM
WIKATANA POPATA: "He is the one responsible for killing and murdering a lot of our people. He is the one responsible for stealing our foreshore."

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A group of activists has marred Prime Minister John Key's entry to Waitangi celebrations yelling "The enemy is amongst us. John Key is the enemy!''

Key was welcomed on to the Te Tii marae across the river from the Treaty grounds this morning.

He later claimed progress for Maori issues in his speech once safely inside the meeting house.

As the party, including Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, approached the whare a group of protestors with a megaphone began advancing on them calling: "John Key is the enemy, the enemy is amongst us."

The protestors yelled that Key was responsible for stealing Maori lands in Aotearoa.

An activist who identified himself as Wikatana Popata said: "He is the one responsible for killing and murdering a lot of our people. He is the one responsible for stealing our foreshore."

Popata is the nephew of rebel Maori Party MP Hone Harawira. Popata said his "Uncle Hone" did not know about his protest.

Popata was strongly critical of Maori Party co-leaders Sharples and Tariana Turia and added that only Harawira was standing up for Maori interests.

Diplomatic Protection Squad members and the Maori honour guard from the marae formed ranks around Key and lead him to the whare.

Maori wardens ushered the protestors back.

Inside the meeting house Key raised the foreshore and seabed issue. He said he wanted to talk about the Government's Takutai Moana Bill.

Titewhai Harawira interrupted with: "That none of us support."

Key said they could "come back to that".

Key addressed Hone Harawira and said there were some things they agreed on and some things they did not.

He said that in opposition the Maori Party was "negative" and stopped things. Instead the Maori Party had power in Government.

"Is New Zealand a better country for that relationship? Well, in my view, yes," Key said.

Key said Maori had marched for the right to stake their claim to the foreshore and seabed in court, and the Government's bill achieved that.

"I, for one, call that progress," Key said.

"We've come a long way in 35 years but this is a journey, not a destination."

Key said he agreed there were still a lot of problems for Maori in housing and education.

Maori should not focus all of their attention on past issues, and should instead focus on social issues, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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