Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds flanked by National's Simon Bridges and the deputy prime minister, NZ First's Winston Peters. The Green's Marama Davidson and James Shaw, and many other MPs from the four parties, were also in the group.

It was the first time that all the political parties had been formally welcomed to the upper marae on the treaty grounds together. The Act Party did not participate.

Meanwhile, on Te Tii marae, the lower marae, Don Brash had his speech cut short by protesters. They included Heeni Hoterene, the wife of Reuben Taipari, who had invited Brash in the first place.

Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church also arrived, along with a lot of motorbike riders, and set up camp at one end of the lower marae grounds, away from the rest of the people there.


A spirit of unified purpose on the upper grounds; the conflict of old on the lower.
It was one year, as Ardern reminded the crowd, since she had stood in that same spot, as the first woman prime minister invited to speak from the porch of the Whare Rūnanga, and asked everyone present to hold her to account.

"So we need to ask, how are we doing?" She had a list: the lowest Māori unemployment in a decade, she said, and fewer Māori in prison. Also, 150,000 Māori families who received the winter energy payment, 50,000 more who benefitted from Working for Families.

There was more. She said she was proud of how much her coalition government had achieved in little more than a year.

"But," she said, "there is still more work to do."

That was her refrain, repeated throughout her speech. There is a lot more work to do.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges, for his part, called for faster progress and proposed that all Treaty settlements be completed by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ratana Church. That's July 2025.

"Some will say that's unrealistic but we need a vision," he said. He looked forward to "a new era where Maori are in control and in the driving seat of their lives".

On the lower marae, protesters erected a banner opposing racism in front of Brash as he attempted to speak, and heckled him from the moment he started to speak.

"No doubt some of you regard me as an out and out racist," he said to the audience of about 200 people gathered in the main tent.


"Kia ora," shouted many in the crowd, agreeing with him, while others simply howled derision.

Heeni Hoterene produced her megaphone. Reuben Taipari, the event convenor, asked for Brash to be given a chance, but it didn't happen. After he finished, he sat and listened, as speaker after speaker gave him the same message: "No room for racism."

Later, Simon Bridges was asked if he agreed with Don Brash. He said yes, it had always been National Party policy that there should be one law for all.

"People should be supported on the basis of need, not of race," he said.

But he said there were "nuanced" differences between him and Brash.
"For example, I support Whanau Ora. But that's because it's not a race-based programme. It's a needs-based programme. It meets a need that's especially there among Maori."

Ardern, in her speech, referred to the late Ngapuhi activist and kaumatua Kingi Taurua, who died in May last year.

"I sat with him, last year," she said. "We had a warm embrace. And two days later he led a march against the Government. It was about mental health."

Friends who will argue. That, to her, embodied the spirit of Waitangi. And Waitangi, she said, and Bridges said too, represented the spirit of the country.

Waitangi Day highlights

•5am Dawn ceremony attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

•6.30am Ardern hosts a public BBQ at the Treaty Grounds

•9.30am The waka fleet arrives at Te Ti Beach before a mass haka by their crews

•10am The Battle of the Bishops — Destiny Church's Bishop Brian Tamaki delivers a sermon to 2000 followers at Te Tii Marae while Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones speaks at the Anglican service at Te Whare Rūnanga at the Treaty Grounds

•11.15am The Navy Māori cultural group performs and the Navy band plays at the Treaty Grounds

•Noon A 21-gun salute from HMNZS Wellington at anchor and a Seasprite flypast

•5pm A ceremonial sunset ceremony at the Treaty Grounds