Waitangi Day has been "hijacked by the angry few" and all of New Zealand needs to reclaim it, United Future leader Peter Dunne says.

Mr Dunne said this could mean renaming Waitangi Day 'New Zealand Day', or choosing another day as a "true New Zealand Day".

The Ohariu MP said New Zealanders had "had a gutsful of being made to feel bad about being New Zealanders" on February 6.

This year's celebrations started with controversy, with Te Tii Marae asking for a $1000 "koha" from Pakeha media to cover the event on the grounds.

On Saturday morning Prime Minister John Key was heckled upon entering the marae.

Mr Dunne said both of these incidents were a breach of the marae's own tikanga and Waitangi Day was turning into a farce.

"If there is an argument that Waitangi Day protests prompted us to address things that needed addressing and still need our vigilance, that's fine, but there has got to be more to our national day than that," he said.

"We have so many wonderful things about this country that we should be celebrating; we have achieved great things as a nation and continue to do so. We need to be proud of all of that and celebrate what it is to be a Kiwi.

"Waitangi Day is not doing that and has not for a long time.

Mr Dunne said Waitangi Day rarely leaves Kiwis feeling more "united, positive or upbeat", and non-Maori avoid the day.

"We deserve a day of true celebration and pride. That does not mean we brush things aside that need attention, but we deserve a day that actually says to us all that it is great to be a Kiwi of whatever ethnic background, and that we are one, and that we have a huge amount to be grateful for in this country," Mr Dunne said.

"Waitangi Day is important, but it could be so much more. It has been hijacked by the angry few."

Asked about the protests this morning Mr Key said they would not stop him attending Waitangi.

"I just don't want to give into those protestors," he told Breakfast on TV One.

"I know Helen Clark stopped going, I understand those reasons why."

Miss Clark stopped going to Waitangi for a while after she became visibly upset when Mr Harawira's mother Titewhai Harawira, challenged her right to speak on Te Tii Marae in 1998. She only returned in 2004.

Mr Key said there had been tension in his three attendances as prime minister.

"In 2009 I was roughed up a little bit, in 2010 it was very tight, this year it was pretty tight as well... you had the same guys out there protesting," he said.

"You know they are there are while the cameras are on and as soon as the cameras go off they pack up and go home... I guess Waitangi has had this very long history of being a lightning rod for those who want to protest and make a statement and sometimes get their 15 minutes of fame."

On Newstalk ZB he labelled some protesters "rent-a-crowd".

- With NZPA