Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

PM: Sex-toy toss a bad look

Dildo thrown at minister 'crude' and 'basic' says PM, and not good for our image.

His right-hand man was the target of a hurled dildo at Waitangi but Prime Minister John Key says he will consider making a return to the country's spiritual birthplace.

Key opted out of attending commemorations of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi this weekend after a public spat with senior members of Ngapuhi.

The Government was still represented at Waitangi, including Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce who was the target of a sex toy thrown by Christchurch anti-TPP protester Josie Butler on Friday afternoon. Key yesterday described the attack on Joyce as "appalling", adding he would return to Waitangi if Ngapuhi could agreed to conditions he required.

"I'd want to go back under the sort of conditions I previously had, which is being able to speak and go through those things," he said.

"Provided I am allowed to go back to Te Tii Marae on the basis that I have every other year, I can't see any reason why I wouldn't go back.

"I'm not boycotting the place, I just said I need clarity around what I'm doing."

Key refused to visit Waitangi this year, saying a "gagging order" had been put in place by the leadership at Te Tii marae, barring him from speaking about politics.

The Joyce incident became a global news story as overseas newspapers, websites and news bulletins carried photos and video of it.

The New York Post placed the story on the front page of its website yesterday.

"It slapped against his lips and bounced off a nearby reporter's breasts -- before falling limply at their feet," it reported.

The Post described Joyce's reaction as: "The minister took it on the chin -- before making a quick withdrawal."

A frustrated Key said: "When you see the sex toy being thrown at Steven Joyce the real tragedy of that is not only is it pretty crude and basic on what is a sort of family occasion around New Zealand, but that is the image that has now gone world-wide.

"It has been one of the lead stories on the BBC, it's [had] huge media coverage around the world. That's the way people from overseas are viewing how we have a celebration on our national day. It just isn't the right image for New Zealand."

At Waitangi, the day was largely dominated by family, festivities and fun. It began with a dawn ceremony where elders said prayers, politicians gave their respects to the Treaty and the national anthem was sung.

The 600 people who had attended watched as the flag was raised to the sound of bagpipes and the sun rose over the horizon.

They were also treated with clear skies instead of the rain that had been present in the days before.

Shortly after 8.30am, waka took off from the landing on the lower Treaty grounds.

Five waka paddled out and around the shore and came to a rest on the beach in front of Te Tii Marae.

Paddler William Catterall said it was an honour to take part in the celebrations.

"We do it to honour our ancestors and keep our traditions alive."

- Herald on Sunday

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