Steven Joyce hit by sex toy thrown by protester at Waitangi
Steven Joyce might have been expecting some argy-bargy at Waitangi this year - but he couldn't possibly have anticipated getting a sex toy thrown at him.
The Economic Development Minister took it on the chin, as it were, joking later that it was simply one of the privileges of serving as an MP.
A woman, who has been identified as Josie Butler, threw the object at Joyce while he was speaking to media after holding talks with iwi, shouting: "that's for raping our sovereignty".
Both she and the object were taken away by police. Butler later posted on her Facebook page that she had been released without charge: "im free [sic]! No charges laid woohoo! TPPA NO WAY!"
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Joyce said this was the first time he'd had an object thrown at him.
"I don't think those things happen every day. I'm fine. I was a little bit surprised but we thought it was humorous at the end of it all.
"[You have] new experiences in politics every day. It's the privilege of serving," Joyce said, tongue-in-cheek.
He wasn't sure if he would become the next YouTube sensation, since he hadn't seen the footage.
This is an extremely unfortunate gif pic.twitter.com/oCRVb2ePl6— Ben Guerin (@bjhguerin) February 5, 2016
"It would be unfortunate for being known for this incident."
He later tweeted: "Someone send the gif over to [television host] John Oliver so we can get it over with.."
Oliver is a comedian who has made a bit of a habit of poking fun at New Zealand politics.
Someone send the gif over to John Oliver so we can get it over with..— Steven Joyce (@stevenljoyce) February 5, 2016
Joyce said he had been in Waitangi for a few days and most people were welcoming.
It was sad the Prime Minister couldn't come, but he had attended some great events on Friday including the opening of a new museum, he said.
Labour leader Andrew Little said it was not uncommon for politician to face flying objects, including mud and food.
"Things get thrown at politicians, not just insults.
"It's a creative item, I guess, to throw at a politician. Perhaps the person throwing thought there was a message in it. I can't imagine what that would be.
"The connection between sexual devices and sovereignty is not immediately apparent to me."
Environment Minister Nick Smith, who was speaking to iwi representatives with Joyce, refused to comment on the dildo-throwing incident or whether he had felt welcome at Waitangi.
NZ First leader Winston Peter simply said: "What am I to make of that?"
Earlier, Little and his entourage were left waiting in pouring rain for almost 90 minutes while waiting to be welcomed onto Te Tii Marae.
With Prime Minister John Key's absence, the opposition parties were the big players.
The Green Party were welcomed onto the lower marae first, leaving Labour in the rain for more than an hour.
Torrential rain came down over their red Labour umbrellas as the Green Party received their official welcome inside the dry marae.
Protesters, who had threatened to stop the Prime Minister from entering the marae, were sparse and silent during the opposition party welcomings.
Once Labour had been welcomed on, a kuia (woman elder) raised an objection to MP Annette King sitting at the front of the marae.
"We had been told beforehand it would be acceptable for Annette, because she is deputy leader, to sit in the front," Little said.
Little said they had a discussion with iwi and King remained seated in the front row.
Former MP Hone Harawira called on John Key to resign as Prime Minister over his no-show at Waitangi.
Key was to be the target of a large-scale TPPA protest at Waitangi, and said on Thursday he would avoid going to Waitangi this year.
Fellow National MPs have followed Key's lead and are also absent from proceedings.
That's left a promised firestorm of anger and protest to be washed away by torrential rain, with just a few hundred gathered at Waitangi in the early morning.
Harawira, former Maori and Mana Party MP, is scathing of the Prime Minister's decision to avoid Waitangi.
"John Key, stop being a cry baby. Get on that bloody plane, get your a**e up here to Waitangi and front up. If you can't, resign."
Key, who once criticised former prime minister Helen Clark for shunning Te Tii Marae, was now turning his own back on Waitangi, Harawira said.
"If you want to be the leader of the nation then you have an obligation to come to the birthplace of the nation to celebrate its birthday," Harawira said.
Key was playing games by blaming the marae trustees for his late withdrawal form the event, he said.
"If there was a gagging order on him it's been put on him by himself and his diplomatic protection squad, not by the people here."
Waitangi was a far cry form the scene of thousands of people marching through Auckland on Thursday to protest the signing of the TPPA.
With rain streaming off umbrellas and flags waving in the wind, a hikoi of about 200 protesters was welcomed on to Te Tii Marae just before 10am.
Former MP Hone Harawira led the group, under a Mana party flag.
Angry at the signing of the TPPA, one group of protesters' placards asked whether "God" should really stand for Government of democracy.
Key earlier said he was not "running scared" and labelled the organisation behind Te Tii Marae a "Mickey Mouse" affair.
His no-show came amid threats of riots and ongoing confusion over whether Key was under a gagging order at the marae.
Marae officials were split on whether the Prime Minister could mention the TPPA during his welcoming onto the marae.
The officials have also attempted to charge media $750 to film on the marae grounds.
Reporters were told it was a new policy and the money went back to the marae, but weren't told what specific costs this charge covered.
Fairfax Media refused to pay the fee.
The families gathered for the weekend's celebrations said they didn't care the guest of honour didn't show.
Francis Conrad shrugged her shoulders when told about the Prime Minister's decision to stay clear of Waitangi celebrations.
"It's no great loss. The day will still go on."