Waitangi Day bound to be trouble, thinks Key

Prime Minister John Key is expecting his reception to be “a bit rough” when he attends celebrations at Waitangi later this week.

“I wish I could tell you it would be, kind of, peaches and cream but my experience of being up there – this will be my ninth time – there’s always a mixture of ?different things that happen.”

Key will attend a powhiri and hui at the Te Tii lower marae on Thursday and the dawn service on Friday, followed by a speech at a breakfast event.

He said it was “a pretty robust environment” on Te Tii marae, and he did not expect the reaction to be different this year.

Previous visits had seen “someone taking a swing at me outside the treaty grounds”, through to him being shouted at and being held up for hours.

One of the few things I think Helen Clark got right: ?why bother? ?Stay away. ?It’s a local power battle between the militant Maori and the dignified Kaumatua for the purpose of media coverage. ?Why even bother to be a bit player? ?

On the other side of the ledger, he saw it as an opportunity to put the Government’s case.

Key said he did not worry about his safety.

He pointed to the 46 deeds of settlements signed by his Government in the last six years, compared with 16 signed in nine years under Labour.

He said the settlements had allowed significant economic development for iwi and the regions where the iwi were based.

Little said there may be problems, but that was the nature of Waitangi Day commemorations.

“I can’t recall a Waitangi Day were there hasn’t been tension between Nga Puhi and others up there and the Government; that’s the nature of life and the nature of the beast up there.

“Those tension aren’t unhealthy, they’re just a reality. And there’s still a way to go as we go through the treaty settlement processes to get them settled up.”

Most of New Zealand don’t even celebrate it as a national day. ?It’s another day off to go fish or do whatever. ?Sleep in. ?Go shopping. ? And the annual debacle is only of interest to the media who will be all over it with glee, blowing up one staged incident and then passing it off as the general mood of the whole event up there.

The PM not turning up would actually be just fine.


– Vernon Small, Stacey Kirk, Stuff