Andrew Dickens on Waitangi Day celebrations: Prime Minister John Key should go

By Andrew Dickens

John Key was welcomed on to Te Tii Marae at the 2009 pre-Waitangi day powhiri but no decisions have been made on whether he will be attending next year's commemorations. File photo
John Key was welcomed on to Te Tii Marae at the 2009 pre-Waitangi day powhiri but no decisions have been made on whether he will be attending next year's commemorations. File photo

The All Blacks never back down from a fight and nor should the PM, writes Andrew Dickens.

Negotiations are going on this week between the Prime Minister and Te Tii Marae in Waitangi about whether John Key will go there on Waitangi Day for Treaty celebrations.

John Key made it clear this week he doesn't want conditions applied to his speaking rights and wants right of reply on the marae if he chooses to attend.

New Zealand First MP and Waitangi National Trust Board Chairman Pita Paraone says some will not agree with that approach and he feels it is incumbent on the Prime Minister to be at Waitangi as he represents the Crown.

I don't think it makes a difference. Mr Key should just go.

Whether you like it or not the Treaty is a founding document of this nation. It was signed in Waitangi and the reason we have the Westminster-style government today is because of the Treaty. Therefore I think it's compulsory for a PM to go there.

But over the past 15 years we've had some gutless PMs who have refused to go. First Helen Clark burst into tears because a Harawira challenged her. That was weak in my book. "Get over yourself, Titewhai" would have been a better reply rather than self-pitying tears.

After that she refused to go. To what benefit? You don't advance your argument by not talking.

Last year John Key didn't go because Maori were intending to protest the Trans Pacific Partnership. Well boo hoo. If Donald Trump was running Te Tii he'd say the same thing. What gives you, the PM, the right to tell people what they're allowed to say at a public event?

Maori and the Crown are two tribes that formed one nation but that doesn't mean we've always got to bow and curtsey to each other and whisper sweet nothings in each other's ears. When my family gets together at Christmas if there isn't one good bust up then it's not a family event.

Key should just go. If they don't let him talk or give him a right of reply he should bear witness, stare them in the eye and let the nation see that hollering doesn't get you anywhere. Not going is chicken. And if the good people of Te Tii Marae want to give the PM a serve then that is also their right.

When I said this on Early Edition I got labelled a leftie, a Maori-loving nutter. No I'm not, I just think the Crown shouldn't run away because of a few people having a whinge. The All Blacks never back down from a fight and nor should the PM.

It's called democracy people. Nobody said it was easy.

- Newstalk ZB

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