Emotions may still flair despite PM not attending Waitangi

By Dean Nathan, Te Ao Māori News

Prime Minister John Key has announced he will not be attending Waitangi celebrations for the first time this year.  

In a statement from his office, a spokesperson said: 

"The Prime Minister's Office has had no response to its letter sent to trustees at Te Tii Marae earlier today.  Accordingly, the Prime Minister has decided he will not be attending celebrations in Waitangi this year."

The decision comes as a result of tensions at Te Tii Marae earlier today.

There was a peaceful atmosphere for the arrival of Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae today but expectations were that it wouldn't be the same for Prime Minister John Key.

Dick Dargaville (Ngāpuhi) says, "We're expecting tempers to flare because it's a day of politics and hence elders have made a decision not to discuss politics in the meeting house.  The issues of serious concern to our people need to be fully discussed in the appropriate forum as politics is not sacred."

The Whakaputanga flag was flying upside down on the marae today.  A signal to Queen Elizabeth that the respective hapū of this land are being shafted by Government.

Dargaville says, "Not only that but when Kingi Taurua and myself speak our own minds in the meeting house on the issue of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, we don't speak for everyone.  We don't represent the thoughts of the majority so we need to be careful."

The elders of this marae recall the violent clashes which broke out on the marae in the early 90s following the announcement of the fiscal envelope.

Dargaville says, "I took Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley over to the other side to debate the issue and they're still alive today.  They haven't died yet and everyone got the opportunity to voice their perspectives on the matter.  If visitors arrive at the gate then we must treat them as such and they will receive a cordial welcome.  Then they'll be directed to take their political issues over the fence to have discussions while we complete the traditional aspects of their arrival here on the marae."

Elders remain vigilant should tempers flair tomorrow all reasoning will be lost.