Elder steps down to bring Waitangi 'peace'

By Mikaela Collins -
Kingi Taurua will step away from his roles organising Waitangi Day commemorations at Te Tii Marae so next year's commemorations run smoothly. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Kingi Taurua will step away from his roles organising Waitangi Day commemorations at Te Tii Marae so next year's commemorations run smoothly. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua has claimed responsibility for the Prime Minister's no-show at Waitangi Day commemorations in the Bay of Islands and will step down from his organisational roles at Te Tii Marae so next year's event is "peaceful".

A hui of Ngapuhi leaders was held on Saturday to "find a peaceful way forward" for next year's Waitangi Day commemorations after Prime Minister John Key decided to not attend this year's events at Waitangi.

Mr Key was told he was not welcome to attend Te Tii Marae as part of this year's Waitangi Day commemorations over the government's support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal so he did not go to Waitangi at all for the event.

"Some of Ngapuhi want to know how we can hold Waitangi Day next year without having the same problems we had this year," said Mr Taurua.

"I have said as long as I am at Waitangi I am responsible for what happened, I banned the Prime Minister from coming to Te Tii because he undermined the Treaty of Waitangi when he signed the TPP."

The idea of blocking Mr Key from Te Tii Marae during this year's Waitangi Day commemorations was raised by Mr Taurua in protest to the signing of the TPP after he received several calls from people asking him to raise the issue with the public. Mr Taurua said he told Saturday's hui attendees standing down may be the only way for peace at future Waitangi Day events.

"The only way for peace is that I step away. As long as I am there I will always be the one to challenge the Government in terms of undermining the Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I will not stand by and let that happen."

Mr Taurua, who has been involved in the organisation of Waitangi Day for "years and years", said it was tough decision to make.

"It was hard because I've always been involved and have always opposed when the Government has undermined those two documents. But it has to be the will of the people, if they want to allow the Crown on I will still be outside the gates protesting," he said.

Mr Taurua said he was thanked for his speech by leaders who said it would need to be discussed by Ngapuhi. He said if he were to step away from organising Waitangi Day commemorations at Te Tii Marae, he is not sure how long that stand-down period would last.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said "this is ultimately a matter for Ngapuhi" to discuss.

"The Prime Minister did not attend this year's celebrations in Waitangi for a number of reasons, which have all been well documented. Where the Prime Minister will celebrate Waitangi Day next year will be decided closer to the time."

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