Steve Braunias' Secret Diary of John Key

At the end of the day there's no way I'm going to Waitangi. Read my lips. Photo / Stuart Munro
At the end of the day there's no way I'm going to Waitangi. Read my lips. Photo / Stuart Munro

MONDAY

At the end of the day I'm going to Waitangi - boots and all.

Read my lips.

I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Because what is Waitangi? Apart from anything else, it's a vastly important symbol.

I think the majority of New Zealanders would say that it's absolutely vital for the Prime Minister to mark our national day by fronting up to Waitangi.

It sends a message.

Helen Clark turned her back on it one year when she was Prime Minister and I remember criticising her at the time.

I told her to get over it, because Waitangi is an opportunity to engage and I never saw an opportunity I didn't like.

My press secretary took me aside the other day, and said, "Mate," he said, "if I was Prime Minister, I'd be seriously tempted to completely flag Waitangi.

Give it a miss. Because what's the point? It's just an annual ritual of abuse, anger and ignorance."

And I said, "Mike," I said, "I appreciate your concerns and may I add that I really like the jackets you wear on Mike's Minute. I don't know where you find them. But the fact is I've been invited, and that's good enough for me. Besides, I'd describe Waitangi as festive."

It's shaping up to be a busy week with one thing and another!

There's the TTP signing on Thursday, and Steven Joyce is going to announce the Government will spend $4 million on the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Maori Art Gallery in Whangarei. I said to him, "Hunder who?"

He said, "You know. Artist who painted those amazing toilets at Kawaka."

"Where?"

"Far North," he said. "You should pop in on your way to Waitangi on Friday."

We need to take our minds off distracting side-issues like Waitangi and TTP, because the flag is a vastly important symbol ...

Dear old Steven! He comes up with a lot of great ideas but some of them are shockers.

Imagine - the Prime Minister going to a public toilet on Waitangi Day! What sort of message would that send?

TUESDAY

At the end of the day I'm going to Waitangi - but I might not take my boots.

It all depends on the invitation.

I'm intending to go, unless they don't want me to go. In the end I'm not going to gatecrash the lower marae if they don't want me to.

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to. Cry if I want to. Cry if I want to. WEDNESDAY At the end of the day I may or may not go to Waitangi depending on the circumstances and the problems it might pose to my security and the exact nature of the invitation and of course then there's the weather.

It's a little bit frustrating because it all looks completely Mickey Mouse if you ask me, but the Mickey Mouseness of it is sitting on their side.

THURSDAY

At the end of the day there's no way I'm going to Waitangi. Read my lips.

Because what is Waitangi? A nuisance. I'd rather spend the day somewhere festive. I think the majority of New Zealanders won't mind if I give it a miss. There are more important things than Waitangi. I'm wearing one of them on my lapel today at the TTP signing - a silver fern pin.

Changing the flag is exactly the kind of discussion we need at this time. It's something we need to talk about. It's something we ought to be having a national conversation about. It's something we need to really focus on as a nation. We need to take our minds off distracting side-issues like Waitangi and TTP, because the flag is a vastly important symbol.

FRIDAY

Steven was right. Hundertwasser's toilets are amazing.

- NZ Herald

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