Greens co-leader Metiria Turei launched a stinging attack on John Key in his absence at Ratana today, saying his view of New Zealand's history was "warped, outrageous and deeply offensive".

She also said Mr Key was a prime example of the "ignorant, uneducated Pakeha" economist Gareth Morgan had talked about the day before.

Ms Turei took aim at Mr Key's recent comments that New Zealand was settled peacefully and that Maori would have welcomed the capital European settlers brought.

"The Prime Minister's warped and outrageous view of history is deeply offensive to Maori but it also undermines decades of effort by Maori and Pakeha, including even by his own Government, to address some of the historic wrongs and encourage an understanding of New Zealand's true history."

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Ms Turei had intended to make the comments in a speech at Ratana Pa, but time shortage meant she did not get the chance to speak.

Ms Turei said although progress had been made in Treaty settlements, it was undermined by ministers using "cynical dog-whistle tactics that play to the widespread ignorance of Te Tiriti and, in doing so, shore up their Government's short term goals".

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

"This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that's what I'm doing."

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a "disgraceful way to describe New Zealand's history".

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is filling in for Mr Key and it was left to him to defend the PM.

Mr English said the Greens were "nasty" on occasion and it didn't serve them well.

"John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn't very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don't think the audience will be too impressed by it."

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Andrew Little: Responsibility to Maoridom

In his first address at Ratana, Andrew Little has spoken of the responsibility he feels to Maoridom after Labour won six of the seven Maori seats.

Speaking without notes, Mr Little focused largely on the historical relationship between Labour and Ratana forged by Michael Joseph Savage and the prophet TW Ratana.

He then moved onto the election result in which Labour re-captured two Maori seats, bringing its tally to six of seven.

"I could take some pride in that. I see that as an awesome responsibility. And we have been challenged today to deliver on that."

He said he planned to build a meaningful relation with Ratana and be ready to address Maori issues.

"I think doing anything less is not accepting that responsibility that has been conferred on Labour with that victory achieved last year with those seats."

He also managed to get in a few jokes - saying of Ratana that he was "80 years ahead of Gareth Morgan" and he didn't have a book to sell.

Listing the ministers of Treaty Settlements over the ages - Sir Doug Graham, Sir Doug Kidd, Margaret Wilson and Sir Michael Cullen" he added wryly that all the men appeared to get knighthoods. "So Chris Finlayson is onto a good thing."

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English spoke for National, beginning by acknowledging the iwi leaders at the event and the work of the prophet. The Finance Minister got some laughs when he added that he was also interested in another type of 'prophet' - "profit. The one we can tax."

Mr English also spoke about the privilege he had to be involved in Treaty settlements. He acknowledged Dame Tariana Turia, who was sitting on the paepae, saying he would miss being nagged by her. He said he would also take care of 'your baby, Whanau Ora."

He also referred to the relationship with the Maori Party and Maori voters' preference for Labour.

"They're not waiting for the government you want - they're working with the Government you've got."

He said there had been gains under that.

"We're a long way forward."

He also nodded at Ratana's allegiance to Labour. "There's been discussion about how Ratana votes, we'll get to that in three years' time, because there's young Maori there who need us next week."