Regan Schoultz is an NZME news service reporter based in Auckland.

Waitangi: Politics dominates day on Te Tii Marae

For a day that was not meant to be about politics on Te Tii Marae, it was all anyone seemed to be talking about -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership and John Key's not attending Waitangi.

This and the rain that pounded those outside the marae relentlessly throughout the day.

Among the few who came to the marae grounds -- a group of hardened protesters, the odd local, political party leaders and the media -- political issues filled conversation.

READ MORE:
A brief history of Waitangi Day

A group of around 50 protesters arrived in the morning holding banners and flags and chanting, "Stand up, fight back" and "Who has got the power? We have got the power."

Most were there to protest against the TPP and seemed unfazed by the rain.

A protester, who did not wish to be named, said she had come because she was worried for her children.

"My worry is about my kids and grandkids and whether they are going to have any land left, anywhere to live, any jobs."

Another, Northland resident Buchanan Cullen, said he had come to hear what was being said about the TPP by the different parties.

"Ultimately it has been signed, so we are just going to go back home after this and dig our trenches and dig our gardens and stuff these corporations. We are going to go back home and feed our families."

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Mr Cullen said the weather had not dampened the spirits of those who had attended.

Throughout the morning, group after group arrived at the marae and were welcomed on, some by means of a haka and others by signing.

Those looking on were calm, and kept quiet during each welcome.

After the protesters came the MPs from opposition political parties.

The Greens arrived first and were welcomed onto Te Tii, followed by the Labour contingent, who were left standing in the rain for an hour before the powhiri for them began.

Although they were not supposed to talk politics on the marae, they were apparently happy to show their colours -- a blaze of branded red umbrellas.

Outside of the whare, many MPs were eager to talk about the TPP and the Prime Minister.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said Mr Key should have been prepared to come and listen to people and not just talk about the TPP.

"In Parliament there are rules there about who can speak and about what and there are rules here on the marae that are the same."

Other MPs and political activists held court in the marae's political forum tent, talking to a crowd of about 40 about the political issues of the day.

Their audience were content to sit back, occasionally murmur in agreement and eat hotdogs.

Another key talking point among those at the marae was the poor turnout. Even police officers were few and far between.

One protester said she believed it was down to the rain and the non-attendance of the Prime Minister.

She said the turnout tomorrow, Waitangi Day, would be better, however, irrespective of the weather.

- NZ Herald

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