Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made a flying visit through Rotorua, giving her first public speech in the city since she was elected.

Ardern and all 13 members of Labour's Maori caucus were welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae, Ohinemutu at lunchtime today.

The caucus were in town for the launch of Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey's advisory panel,
Kahui Koeke, and for the turning of the sod on the Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa development.

Members of the public filled Tamatekapua to hear Ardern speak.

Advertisement

Ngati Whakaue kaumatua Monty Morrison welcomed the guests before Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis introduced each of the Maori caucus and the new roles they held.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Maori caucus arrive at Te Papaiouru Marae.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Thursday, 7 December 2017

Coffey had the role of introducing Ardern.

"It is my pleasure and my privilege, in bringing people together, to bring the new prime minister of New Zealand into our humble whare here at Tamatekapua. From the Parliament of Wellington to our parliament here in Te Arawa."

Ardern gave the introduction to her speech in te reo Maori.

"I am slow, but I am learning," she said. "Please, I welcome any feedback on my pronunciation."

She said she was humbled by the welcome she received and by the number of iwi and hapu representatives who had travelled to be there.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
5 Dec, 2017 2:09pm
3 minutes to read
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern feels the weight of her role as she is welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo / Ben Fraser
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern feels the weight of her role as she is welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo / Ben Fraser

"There have been moments in my journey where the full weight of being the prime minister I have felt, and today as I entered the marae I felt that weight. But also I felt the awhi (embrace) as well."

Ardern had the crowd laughing with tales of growing up in Murupara and her journey into politics.

"Us being here is an acknowledgement that, yes, Labour now holds all of the Maori seats. But with that privilege comes huge responsibility," she said.

"I can assure you, no one will hold us to account more than our own Maori caucus, to ensure that we are delivering for Maori. You cannot hog those seats and sit back without focusing on real, genuine gains for Maori."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking inside Tamatekapua.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Thursday, 7 December 2017

She gave special acknowledgement to the "tireless work" Te Ururoa Flavell did for Maori as the previous Minister for Maori Development and Waiariki MP.

In closing she gave her aspirations for the type of government Labour will be.

"That we are confident, that we are strong, that we are focused, that we are collaborative and that we are kind.

"I think that is what has been missing and I think that is intrinsic to what we are as New Zealanders."

She received a standing ovation before she made her way to the whare kai through a sea of hongi and hugs.

Later Coffey's Kahui Koeke presented the issues their iwi faces to the Labour delegates.

The visit was concluded with the turning of the sod on the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa, a luxury spa and wellness centre which is being developed by Pukeroa Oruawhata on Rotorua's lakefront. It is expected to boost the local economy by tens of millions of dollars a year.

Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust chairman Malcolm Short said the sod turning marked an important step in the project.

 Rotorua's Norma Sturley gives the gift of a pounamu to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Rotorua's Norma Sturley gives the gift of a pounamu to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

Ardern joked with the crowd gathered that she could certainly use a spa at the moment.

"It's a delight to be here for this milestone," she said.

After the sod had been turned Norma Sturley presented Ardern with a taonga.

She hung the pounamu, in the shape of the Wai Ariki logo, around the prime minister's neck before huddling together for a photograph.

Students from Rotorua Primary School performed waiata for the crowd.

Video will play in
Play now
Don't auto play

Never auto play