Waitangi gauntlet awaits PM

Last updated 08:51 04/02/2013
John Key stands arm in arm with Hone Harawira's mother, Titewhai
JOHN SELKIRK/The Dominion Post
POWHIRI PAIR: Prime Minister John Key stands arm in arm with Hone Harawira's mother, Titewhai, as he is welcomed on to Te Tii Marae last year.

Relevant offers


Townsville media track down stranded John Key Mike Yardley: Legalising euthanasia a step onto a slippery slope John Key's plane is grounded in Australia until a replacement plane arrives to head on to India Free trade agreement with India won't happen overnight but John Key says it's crucial to get there Foreign fighters in the Middle East could return to New Zealand as Islamic State crumbles - John Key Minister welcomes NZ's first three way kidney exchange 'Australia has no greater friend' - what Julie Bishop really thinks of New Zealand Greens call on Government to 'call in' major gas-fired power plant under RMA Auckland businessman William Yan set to head back to China for questioning Stacey Kirk: Grim prospects for suicide, as conversation goes quiet

Prime Minister John Key is doing his best to stay out of a stoush over who escorts him on to the Waitangi lower marae.

Troubling is brewing ahead of this weeks' celebrations as Ngapuhi leaders try to oust activist Titewhai Harawira from her regular job of guiding the VIP visitor.

She's digging her heels in.

Maori Council co-chairman Maanu Paul is also threatening to make a speech about the water rights court battle which threatens to delay the Government's asset sales agenda.

This morning Key tried to diffuse the battle saying he'll do what he's told on the day. And he's warned small outbreaks of protesting overshadow what is ultimately a family day.

"Waitangi can be a bit of a honeypot for activists," he said.

"I suspect that's going to carry on. I've no expectations it will go away.

"The tragedy of that is it portrays the wrong image."

He encouraged people to attend, saying it was a "gorgeous location".

"I wouldn't be put off by what happens," Key said.

Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua said Harawira - mother of Mana party leader Hone - should give kuia at the marae a chance.

"They clean toilets, prepare kai ... and the question is, where is Titewhai then?"

The marae's board of trustees nominated Ani Taurua to accompany Key. Harawira has indicated she won't give up without a fight.

Ngapuhi leader David Rankin said Harawira's actions were "culturally inept".

But Auckland University of Technology professor of indigenous studies Rawiri Taonui told a radio station this morning that she had served the marae for 40 years and deserved the honour.

Meanwhile, a speech on water rights could further embarrass Key on the day. The Crown and the Maori Council are engaged in a Supreme Court battle over the issue.

The council will hold a meeting in Waitangi today to discuss what Paul's speech would say - but they have made it clear the focus would be water.

Taurua said Paul had asked, and been granted, permission to give a speech during the celebrations while Key was present.

Maori were concerned about the sale of state-owned energy companies, lamented the lack of a written constitution, and felt the Government "seems to think that they own the Treaty".

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?



Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content