This year's Waitangi commemorations were initially expected to be the most aggressive in a while - however a combination of rain and the Prime Minister's no-show meant it was pretty quiet.

With tensions building over Thursday's signing of the TPP, and debate over whether or not John Key should be welcome at Te Tii Marae, yesterday's commemorations were anticipated to be loud, aggressive and filled with protest. However, Mr Key's decision to skip Waitangi removed any real chance of trouble.

The rain did the rest, slashing the number of people gathered outside the marae from the usual thousands to just hundreds. At times the soaked and bedraggled media outnumbered spectators.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said at the end of the day Mr Key had to make a decision about what was "right for him".


"I think he should be here and I argued at the hui on Tuesday that he should be here.

"It would have been the first opportunity for Maori to put questions to him directly."

He said despite korero there should be no political talk in the wharenui, he said it was an important place for discussion and debate.

"I just talked to a guy there and he said 'we don't know what this [the TPP] means for us' and at the hui someone said 'the marae is our parliament'."

Marchers on the annual Hikoi ki Waitangi arrived about 9.30am, battling the wind and rain as they walked the last leg of the hikoi which started at Cape Reinga on February 1. This year's hikoi took a detour to Auckland to join Thursday's TPP protest rally.

The roughly 250 marchers chanted and sang with flags and placards in hand, denouncing the trade agreement.

The protest went ahead with no trouble.

However, later on in the day a sex toy was thrown at Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. The woman who threw the sex toy was spoken to by police for about 10 minutes before being taken away in a police car.

Buck Cullen had been following the hikoi since Whangarei and said the Prime Minister's no-show did not affect him.

"It doesn't bother me, he's not what we're here for. He can sign away our rights and we can protest," Mr Cullen said.

Mr Davis said overall Waitangi was a day of celebration and protest was important.

"All around New Zealand, Waitangi is celebrated without incident.

"Just over by the pou (at Te Tii Marae) on the 5th of February, 1840, the Treaty was debated before it was signed," said Mr Davis.

"It's not up to media or New Zealanders to decide people can't protest.

"Just because it's outside your comfort zone, doesn't mean to say it is wrong."

Another hikoi today, from Te Tii Marae to the Treaty Grounds flagpole, is also expected to focus on the TPP.

With no Prime Minster taking part this year, there was no formal welcome for National Party MPs or their support parties. Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell was present yesterday morning, however.

About 11.30am, members of the Labour and Green parties, including Labour leader Andrew Little and his predecessor David Cunliffe, and Green co-leaders Metiria Turei and James Shaw, were welcomed on to the marae under a forest of umbrellas.