In February 2019, all ears will be on the response Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will give to when Maori gathered at Waitangi say "tell us what you have done for us''.

Yesterday, Ardern invited Maori gathered at Waitangi on the upper marae, to hold the Government accountable.

It was an historic speech - Ardern was the first female Prime Minister to be given the right to speak at the marae - a right usually only accorded to men.

"When we return in one year, in three years, I ask you to ask us what we have done for you.
"Hold us to account. Because one day I want to be able to tell my child that I earned the right to stand here. And only you can tell me when I have done that."


Ardern's speech was at the upper marae, a deviation from past traditions which saw politicians and guests gather at nearby Te Tii, a venue that seems to attract volatility and controversy.

Yesterday's powhiri was calm and peaceful, watched by a crowd of about 150.

Ardern said the government had not come to Waitangi as ceremonial guests - they had come to Northland for five days because there was work to be done.

She is right.

Northland needs to work closely with the Government on issues like employment and education which can help appease the region's poverty and health challenges.

And somewhere within the five days of mahi, the treaty settlement process will have been discussed.

Many eyes are on Andrew Little - possibly one of the better qualified Treaty Settlement ministers New Zealand has had.

If Little brings Ngapuhi to, or even closer to settlement in the next three years, it will be because Ngapuhi has also done their own work internally, settled differences, and agreed to move on for the betterment of the tribe.


In which case, when February 2019 rolls around, Ardern will no doubt be expected to explain what she has done for Maori.

She will also be entitled to ask politely, perhaps quietly, of Ngapuhi, "what have you done to help yourselves?".