Waitangi is special, it hardly needs saying.

It is the place where Tribesman blatting around on massive noisy motorbikes are as familiar as the Crown limos ferrying ministers to the Copthorne hotel - although this year they are taking the back route just to be on the safe side.

The waters around the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed 177 years ago are shared by waka crews, cruise liners, Navy ships, cops in Zodiacs, jet skiis, and, this year, plenty of swimmers trying to cool off in perfect heat.

Today's events are firmly concentrated on the treaty ground and the life-affirming festivities (sugary drinks are banned) that follow the dawn service in the ceremonial national marae, which was scheduled to be attended by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.


Sadly February 6 is also becoming the day to forget February 5 and the madness of Te Tii Marae.

February 5, the day the politicians arrive at Te Tii, has always something of cauldron and the Harawiras were often blamed.

But the fact the Harawiras are now seen as the voice of reason at Te Tii shows how far things have deteriorated.

The fact the Winston Peters is siding with the journalists who were banned also shows had bad things have become, and how good Winston is as getting a headline.

Te Tii is not a place of anarchy where there are no rules. It is a place where there are too many young men with a whiff of power create too many rules, usually issued with a hint of menace, and with no regard to the rule issued five minutes before.

They have been conflicting rules about whether local iwi can take photos there, let alone the public or the media.

In the mismanagement of its Waitangi hosting duties, Te Tii Marae has united virtually all of the north's political rivals: Shane Jones, Kelvin Davis, Pita Paraone, Peeni Henare, Hone Harawira and Winston Peters.

All have said things have to change there. After Waitangi is over this year, Harawira says he will help them to sort out what went wrong but, wisely, he did not want to get caught up in the midst of the chaos this year.

Yesterday's political forum could have been a showcase event for the marae - the leaders of most political parties turned up to talk Maori politics.

But the only people privileged enough to hear the korero were the 60 or so people in the audience.

A couple of young women journalists from Newstalk ZB were allowed to sit near the forum tent but they were forbidden from working - no recordings of what was being said, not even any notes to be taken.

They could listen from a distance, try to remember what was said, and then scurry over to the tent out of sight of the Te Tii hosts to file a few paragraphs about what was said.
They were told that if they took out their iPhones, it was be confiscated and they would be issued with a trespass order.

Andrew Little emerged from the forum talking tough, suggesting he might not turn up to Te Tii next year if the ban on media coverage persisted.

Peters wasn't going to waste a year making a decision or an hour of his life talking to that lot.

He and his caucus headed back towards the Copthorne to contemplate the happier events of today.