Waitangi gauntlet awaits PM

ANDREA VANCE AND KATE CHAPMAN
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

Politics

Thank you John Key: outpouring of grief leads to huge card for outgoing PM Oscar Kightley: John's gone so the fun has to stop Jonathan Milne: Others aspire to change the world; John Key sought to manage the small change Rod Oram: Key - Big on salesmanship but low on strategy David Slack: 2016 - mostly cheesy and crunchy Passing muster: The struggle to fix our sick, bloated, 'stinking' prisons David v Jacinda: What I want from our new Prime Minister Stacey Kirk: Ratings, respect and rejuvenation - English driving a stable cart, but some gravel roads ahead Ten years of fear and crashes as schools battle 'agonisingly slow' NZ Transport Agency Paula Bennett has won the battle for deputy Prime Minister and will team up with Bill English

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?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content