A Northland kaumatua believes the Prime Minister will "never get on" to Te Tii Marae if he ignores Ngapuhi's vote to block him from the marae's Waitangi Day Commemorations.
Despite confusion, after five hours of debate at a hui held at the marae yesterday, in an unprecedented move Ngapuhi who attended the meeting voted 38 to 14 in favour of not allowing Prime Minister John Key, or any other National MPs, on to the marae.
The hui was called after kaumatua Kingi Taurua raised the idea of banning Mr Key from the marae in protest to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signing which will take place in New Zealand tomorrow. There's still a chance the Prime Minister could get onto the marae if some elders escorted him on, but Mr Key said he would not go where he was not welcome.
"If that is the case, I would celebrate New Zealand's national day in another part of the country," he said.
Mr Taurua, who did not vote, said there was standing room only at the marae and there were mixed emotions about the decision.
"I wasn't surprised," said Mr Taurua "This wasn't my idea, I brought it to the people and called the tribe together to talk about it. I had hundreds of people who called and ask me [to do this]."
However, while it was agreed the vote was for blocking Mr Key from the marae, there was confusion about what the final decision was. "There's confusion here. It's political, it's all political. I believe he [Mr Key] will never get on to the marae," said Mr Taurua "If he wants to take the risk he can."
Mr Key said he had already received a call from Titewhai Harawira inviting him to Te Tii Marae but he had no intention of gatecrashing.
"I attend a number of events at Waitangi each year, including the Iwi Leaders Forum, Beat the Retreat, and the Dawn Ceremony. It is my strong preference to attend them all. But I understand tikanga states Te Tii Marae is the gateway to Waitangi and the Treaty Grounds. Therefore, if I am not welcome or not permitted to speak at the lower marae, I have no intention of gate crashing events in Waitangi."
Te Kotahitanga o Nga Hapu Ngapuhi co-chairman Rudy Taylor said in the end trustees had decided it would be best for Mr Key to come on, but Mr Taurua said the final decision was made when Ngapuhi voted. Mr Taylor said while Te Kotahitanga opposed the TPP, allowing Mr Key on to the marae would give Maori the chance to express how they feel about the international trade-agreement.
Dover Samuels, Maori Affairs Minister in Helen Clark's government, urged those present at the meeting to vote against banning Mr Key, describing the decision as a missed opportunity that meant Maori would be unable to put their concerns to the Prime Minister "kanohi ki kanohi, eyeball to eyeball".
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said while the vote was in favour of banning Mr Key, there was discussion that if he were to turn up to the marae, those who were in favour of him coming would welcome him.
"The Prime Minister should be welcomed on so people can ask direct questions about the TPP. The devil is in the detail," Mr Davis said.
Northland MP and New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, said he was not surprised by the decision.
Mr Taurua said overall people were "angry" about the TPP. "People, not only Maori, are angry. No one was consulted. This undermines the Treaty."