Te Tii Marae trustees have been told the traditional pre-Waitangi Day powhiri will be moved to the Upper Treaty Grounds but a Ngapuhi kaumatua says that should be the iwi's decision.
Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua said a hui was being held at Te Tii Marae on Friday, June 30, to discuss next year's Waitangi Day commemorations after Pita Paraone, Waitangi National Trust chairman, told marae trustees the annual pre-Waitangi powhiri would be held at Te Whare Runanga at the Upper Treaty Grounds next year.
"I said that they are not the speakers for Ngapuhi and this is an issue for Ngapuhi as a whole and Ngapuhi need to have a hui to discuss it," said Mr Taurua.
The decision to bypass Te Tii Marae comes after years of controversy. Mr Paraone said in particular it was the events over the past two commemorations which led to the decision.
This included a lack of speaking rights which led to Prime Minister Bill English and former PM John Key not attending; and the media ban.
"The decision was made as response to the number of people supporting the notion of moving it up to the Treaty Grounds, and when I say support I mean people from the North here. Some of them felt aggrieved that that was seen as how we in the North treat our visitors," Mr Paraone said.
Mr Taurua said that announcement was met with mixed reactions, but he would reserve his decision until he heard what others had to say. He said it would hurt if Te Tii Marae lost the official welcome.
The powhiri for the British and Irish Lions was held at the Upper Treaty Grounds earlier this month and Mr Paraone said it showed if organisers work together a powhiri for distinguished guests can be held there.
Mr Paraone said protesters, who usually arrive at Te Tii Marae when the pre-Waitangi Day powhiri is held, would be allowed at the Upper Treaty Grounds but said there was a level of protest which was acceptable.