Marae officials block view into lower Waitangi grounds with tarpaulins
Te Tii Marae representatives are going to extreme efforts to block views into the marae grounds in the lead up to Waitangi Day commemorations.
Marae representatives hung tarpaulins in trees and around the marae perimeter to block the view from the adjoining road.
The extreme efforts to obscure the views come after the marae tried to sell exclusive broadcast rights to media for $10,000 in order for them to cover commemorations.
The Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, has arrived at the controversial lower Marae to be welcomed on for the first time where a heavy presence of more than 50 police greeted her..
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Media were told last week they needed to pay $10,000 for exclusive rights or a $1200 koha to go onto the Marae and while the trustees initially budged on that earlier on Saturday, things have since tightened up again.
Tarpaulins have been hung up to block any views from outside the Marae grounds and media are being told their presence is not welcome.
Police are attending in huge numbers, creating lines outside the Marae, and are increasingly pushing media further away from the events.
A number of locals spoken to outside the marae said they were disappointed with the handling of events at Te Tii Marae.
One woman said she'd like to see Waitangi return to the days of old where hundreds of people attended and were all welcome on the marae regardless of where they came from.
On Sunday political talks will be held at the Marae and MPs from all parties will be in attendance. It's unknown whether media will be blocked from that as well.
Reddy is heading to the HMNZ Wellington following the powhiri and will also be in Waitangi tomorrow - despite it being her first time at Waitangi media have been told she won't be making any statements or doing any interviews while here.
Maori MPs including NZ First's Pita Paraone and Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis have both slammed the actions of those at Te Tii and told media not to pay the money being demanded.
Davis, said he is saddened by the way Te Tii Marae is handling events and it may prompt a move away from the grounds next year.
"It's really quite sad, I'm upset about it. It just makes a mockery of the Marae".
"It's un-Maori, it's just not the way things are done. Powhiri are meant to welcome people and during the Waitangi period we should be welcoming the whole country onto our Marae," he said.
"Those people who can't make it, like from the South Island, should be able to see - via media coverage - what's going on. It's just sad."
He said Waitangi will still go on next year but "whether we will be at Te Tii Marae is another thing".
High-profile broadcaster Willie Jackson, who is expected to announce this weekend that he's running for Labour in the election, said the police presence and blocking of media was "absolutely bloody non-sensical".
"We've got to learn to do this a lot better because it's such an important day...you can't treat media like that."
Jackson refused to confirm that he's joining Labour but says he is stepping down from his media roles and organisations he works for that are state-funded - his last day at RadioLive is on Tuesday.