Titewhai calls for peace at Waitangi

By Dean Nathan

Ngāpuhi matriarch Titewhai Harawira is calling for peace at Waitangi Day celebrations this year. Today the Waitangi organising committee met to discuss plans for hosting guests next month.

Hopes are high for Waitangi Day after today's initial meeting of the organising committee.

Pita Paraone says, "We want the public that attends Waitangi Day to be able to fully engaged and able to be part of everything that happens on this occasion.  If the Prime Minister wants to address the gathering then we will ensure that that happens."

The Ngāpuhi matriarch who leads visitors onto Waitangi is already vigilant to calls for her people to block the government arrival.

Titewhai Harawira says, "We've got a new government and new ministers and I want us as Ngāpuhi to start with a clean slate.  Not one that's going to stop the Prime Minister and that going over the bridge.  I mean come on Kingi, cut that nonsense out!"

While the organising committee is a permanent fixture of Waitangi Day, organising the receiving of visitors at the Whare Rūnanga on the Treaty Grounds is a first.

Paraone adds, "In the past, the majority of people didn't know what was happening or what to expect.  What we really want is to be totally transparent so that everyone knows whats on the itinerary, who the speakers are and so on."

Harawira says, "This move is about retaining our dignity recovering it because what happened down here was absolutely shocking the way that our manuhiri were treated."

The committee will host further meetings to finalise the official plans for Waitangi Day celebrations on the treaty grounds.

"No doubt people will come wanting to make their issues are known and we have no problem with that.  But the key focus of our committee is ensuring that Waitangi Day flows smoothly," says Paraone.