Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua 'ashamed' of his iwi's treatment of Bill English
A Ngapuhi elder who called Bill English a "spoiled child" for not attending this year's Waitangi commemorations says he's "embarrassed" about his comments.
After seeing the letters exchanged between his iwi and the Prime Minister's office, which said English could not speak at all on the marae unless a Maori representative did so for him, Kingi Taurua said he's "ashamed" and "disgusted" by the treatment given to the Prime Minister.
"I didn't know the letter contained that he wasn't permitted to speak and if so he had to get someone Maori to speak for him. I express my apologies to the Prime Minister for that and I'm very ashamed."
On Monday Taurua attacked English's decision not to attend Waitangi events, saying he needed to respect marae protocol that political talks would happen away from the marae following the powhiri. He's now asking for English's forgiveness.
In a letter (readable in full at the bottom of this page) to English's chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, the Waitangi marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha stated "small but significant changes" to the powhiri including, "your Maori representatives speak or mihi on the Prime Minister's behalf during the powhiri...and then at the conclusion of the powhiri process we will provide a stage and forum for the Prime Minister to engage with Ngapuhi, address the nation and talk politics freely and uninhibited, if he so wishes".
Taurua said anybody at a powhiri has the right to speak, regardless of whether they do so in English or Maori, and when the Prime Minister is welcomed he has the right to respond.
His objection to English speaking was specific to keeping political talks away from the marae - not that English couldn't speak at the powhiri at all.
Given no other political party has been told they can't speak at the powhiri, Taurua said it's clear Taituha and his supporters are "against the National Party".
Taurua is also embarrassed by the wording in the letter referring to English addressing "Ngapuhi".
"Waitangi Day isn't all about Ngapuhi. There's people from all over the country there and it's shameful what they've written."
"I ask the Prime Minister to forgive me," he said.
Members of Ngapuhi are meeting on Thursday to discuss English's decision not to come and plans for Waitangi Day and Taurua said his message will be that Taituha and his supporters be stripped of their roles.
"I can't be at the meeting but that's the message I've asked to be sent."
"We've been left with egg on our face...I really regret what was said and want to take it all back," he said.
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