Leading northern identity Shane Jones has accused the leadership at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi of extortion and conducting a "cultural shakedown" in its bid to charge $10,000 for exclusive broadcast coverage by Newshub or 1 News.

Both are refusing to pay.

Jones, of the Aupouri iwi, said it was an outrageous move.

"This is an equivalent of a cultural shakedown.


"The Waitangi marae must never use our national day as an opportunity to shake down the media for putea [funds]."

Te Tii Marae is a traditional working marae at Waitangi, and is sometimes referred to as the lower marae, which dignitaries often visit on February 5 as part of their schedule in the lead-up to Waitangi Day on February 6.

It is not part of the Treaty Grounds, which houses a ceremonial meeting house, where the dawn service is held on Waitangi Day, and which is sometimes called the upper marae.

Prime Minister Bill English will be avoiding the marae because although it invited him, marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha would not allow him to speak.

Jones said if this was indicative of what English had to put up with, it was no wonder English had decided to mark Waitangi Day with Ngati Whatua at Bastion Pt.

Jones, who is based in Kerikeri, said he may go to Te Tii Marae on Friday to tell them what he thought about the "shakedown".

He is planning to go on to Te Tii on Sunday officially as part of the diplomats' delegation - the former Labour MP is now an Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development.

Jones said the chairman of the marae, Ngati Kawa Taituha, is named after a tribe of the north.


Jones said when you bear the name of your tribe, you bear a huge obligation to uphold the traditions of your tribe.

"I know of no tribe in Tai Tokerau that would regard this as being credible custom.

"This notion that the only way you can report news about Waitangi or via the Waitangi marae is to pay this cultural tribute of $10,000 is a type of cultural extortion."

Jones said the leadership at Te Tii had once been strong but it was a case of inverse progress - as time had gone by the leadership had weakened.

1 News reported that the marae secretary, Tana Apiata, had asked to talk to someone in the organisation with the chequebook.

A $1200 option would allow media to film powhiri from designated spots.

New Zealand MP Pita Paraone, who is part of the organising group for events on the Upper Treaty Ground, told 1 News it was time to question whether all commemorations at Te Tii be bypassed.