Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

TTP stand-off: John Key may bypass Waitangi

Protesters at the Te Tii Marae last year. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Protesters at the Te Tii Marae last year. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The Prime Minister will consider bypassing Waitangi for Waitangi Day this year if the Ngapuhi hosts of Te Tii Marae decide he is not welcome.

The hosts are in a hui today to decide whether to extend the usual welcome onto the marae on February 5 after elder Kingi Taurua said he believed it should be withheld if the Government signed the Trans Pacific Partnership on Thursday. That view has been disputed by others in Ngapuhi, including Rudy Taylor who said Waitangi was Ngapuhi's chance to put its views to Mr Key.

A spokeswoman said he would attend if he was invited but he would consider marking the day elsewhere if not.

"Once we hear whether he is invited we will decide what the Prime Minister will do to mark Waitangi celebrations. There are Waitangi celebrations all around the country."

If that happens, it would be the first time Mr Key has not gone to Waitangi since he became leader of the opposition in 2006.

Failing to attend Waitangi would involve rapid rescheduling. As well as going to Te Tii Marae, the Prime Minister usually meets iwi leaders at Waitangi, attends the Dawn Service and hosts a Waitangi Day breakfast where he delivers a speech.

Mr Key has previously said he hoped to attend Te Tii Marae, but would not "gatecrash". In 2007 when he was leader of the opposition, he pledged to return to the marae on February 5 every year after then Prime Minister Helen Clark bypassed the marae, which is often the focus of protest.

NZH

- NZ Herald

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