Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

John Key should be welcomed onto marae for Waitangi Day, leader says

John Key has said he will not attend if he isn't welcome. Photo / Mark Mitchell
John Key has said he will not attend if he isn't welcome. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Prime Minister John Key should be welcomed at Te Tii Marae for Waitangi Day commemorations on Friday, despite widespread anger over the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, a Ngapuhi hapu leader says.

Te Kotahitanga co-chairman Rudy Taylor said he will speak at today's meeting of Northland iwi leaders and argue for a welcome to be extended to Mr Key.

"Ngapuhi must uphold our mana and anybody who is waiting at the front of the gates should not be stopped from coming onto our marae.

"Regardless of the issues of the day, Waitangi Day is Ngapuhi's opportunity to tell the government how we feel."

Te Tii Marae in Paihia. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Te Tii Marae in Paihia. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua has threatened to stop government ministers from attending the commemorations because the TPP deal is being signed in Auckland on Thursday.

Mr Taylor said there was anger at a lack of consultation with Maori over the huge trade deal, but keeping Mr Key away from commemorations was not the answer.

"There will be a strong voice of the people coming from the taumata korero [speaker's bench] of why we vehemently oppose the TPP.

"Maori are angry at the politicians pushing this down the craws of those they claim to serve."

Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters said it was up to the marae to decide whether the Government should go on.

"It's over to them, but one doesn't advance one's cause by boycotting a chance for dialogue."

Mr Key has said he would not gatecrash the events, but expected his welcome would not be revoked.

The Prime Minister made a commitment when he was leader of Opposition in 2007 to return to Te Tii every year and said he hoped to do that.

Politicians are welcomed on to Te Tii marae on February 5 before events move to the Treaty Grounds on Waitangi Day. Te Tii has long been the scene of protests. Over the years, Mr Key has been shoved by protesters, shouted down, and had fish thrown in front of him.

Hui to take place

A hui is due to get underway this morning in the Bay of Islands to decide whether to allow the Government onto the marae.

Mr Taurua said some people felt opening the doors to the Government would provide a good opportunity for them to talk about the TPP.

"People have called to tell me what they think. Some say they want the Government to come on to the marae so they can talk about the TPP and others have called me saying they want to block them from the marae."

Mr Taurua said he did not understand why people wanted the Government to come on to Te Tii Marae but it was important to hear everyone's views.

The hui was due to get underway at Te Tii Marae from 10am.

- Additional reporting: Northern Advocate

- NZ Herald

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