PM puts heat on race extremists

By Claire Trevett

Veteran Maori rights campaigner Titewhai Harawira escorts John Key on to Te Tii Marae at Waitangi yesterday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Veteran Maori rights campaigner Titewhai Harawira escorts John Key on to Te Tii Marae at Waitangi yesterday. Photo / Richard Robinson

Prime Minister John Key will use his Waitangi Day address this morning to tackle extremists on both sides of the race relations divide, saying they cynically damage the goodwill needed to put an end to grievance in New Zealand.

Mr Key said yesterday that he had decided to begin an annual address on Waitangi Day, saying leaders should reflect upon their national day and race relations.

It is understood his speech this morning will focus on the Treaty settlement process, acknowledging the work of both Labour and National Governments and emphasising the Government's aim to hasten the process.

He will say that settling Auckland iwi claims will be a priority in 2010, after the agreement to vest the volcanic cones in a collective of local iwi, and will reassure listeners that the Government will act carefully to ensure agreements are not flawed in the haste to meet the 2014 deadline.

Mr Key has repeatedly criticised Maori Party MP Hone Harawira for focusing on Pakeha colonisation of New Zealand, and is expected to use his speech to say that he believes the views of extremists are not those of the majority.

His comments will target both sides - including Pakeha who believe the Treaty settlement process is a "gravy train" and that the price is too high, so past injustice should be ignored.

He will also tackle Maori extremists, describing them as those who promote a culture of entitlement and separatism, who believe colonisation entitles Maori to special treatment and whose sole objective is division.

The PM's inaugural Waitangi Day address will also mark a day of returns - the diplomatic corps have returned to Waitangi this year for the first time since protesters spat and bared their buttocks at them in 1995.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad will also attend today in his first visit - an indication the police believe strained relations with Maori after the Tuhoe anti-terrorism raids are now mending.

Mr Key was welcomed on to Te Tii Marae yesterday with the Maori Party, Green Party and the diplomatic corps, with no repeat of the jostling of last year. However, he did arrive to find he was facing Mr Harawira and NZ First leader Winston Peters on the paepae - both are politicians he has been scathing about in the past.

Mr Harawira took the chance to take a swipe at Mr Key for criticising his views on colonisation and his description of colonialists as "white motherf***ers".

In his speech at the marae yesterday, Mr Key discussed progress on Treaty settlements and said 2010 could be the year for a breakthrough on the foreshore and seabed. However, he said he needed to voice a note of caution that both sides had to compromise.

He also raised the 15 per cent Maori unemployment rate, saying improving education outcomes for Maori children would help address that.

- NZ Herald

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