The Waitangi Day controversies are early this year, perhaps because in just a few days Jabba the President will be leader of the free world and we won't have time to think about anything else.

The main controversy has been the Prime Minister's decision not to front at Waitangi on February 6 because he would not be allowed to speak at the powhiri.

"A lot of New Zealanders cringe a bit on Waitangi Day," he said. "There was a time when the protest at Waitangi was nationally relevant - 15, 20 years ago. That time has passed because we have made so much progress on relations with Maori and the Treaty settlements."

I refused to go to Waitangi on February 6 last year. That's because I tried to go the year before and the event was so crowded and the traffic so horrendous that, after circling the site for a length of time that only Aucklanders normally have to tolerate, we had a coffee in Paihia and went home again. I probably couldn't see all the cringing because I was stuck in the car.


Letters between the PM's chief of staff Wayne Eagleson and marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha show the PM's office made speaking at the powhiri a deal breaker. Eagleson asked for "a specific invitation for the Prime Minister clearly stating that he has speaking rights at Te Tii Marae for the powhiri".

Taituha outlined a process whereby the PM's "Maori representatives speak or mihi on [his behalf during the Powhiri ... and then ... we will provide a stage and forum for the Prime Minister to engage with Ngapuhi, address the nation, and talk politics freely and uninhibited".

That sounds like Bill English would have plenty of chances to say whatever he needed to one way or the other.

Yeah, nah, said Eagleson.

Tikanga is tikanga and hosts are hosts. When you visit a place at someone's invitation you accept their rules. Their place, their protocol. You don't get to say grace, decide where everyone sits at dinner or choose which wine to serve.

You can appreciate the Prime Minister getting a bit riri about not being included in the powhiri on his terms - he's the Prime Minister, dammit - but not to the extent that he should forgo an opportunity to demonstrate goodwill and the ability to accept compromise for a greater good.

Maori being told by Pakeha how to organise their affairs has been a bit of a bugbear for quite some time. It's disappointing to see it continuing at this level.

The allegations of what Donald Trump did in Moscow made me feel grubby, but they certainly didn't make me feel like having a shower.

I'd be surprised to find the accusations at the core of these allegations were true, but I can't get indignant about them. The women concerned were sex workers who would have been paid a premium. It's not like anyone was grabbing them by the p***y.

January 10 was the anniversary of the death of David Bowie, and many heartfelt encomia were devoted to him on that occasion. In some cases, people on social media simply reposted what they posted the year before.

It was an early reminder that one of the unforeseen consequences of last year's celebrity death epidemic is that, along with another year of even more celebrities dying, we are going to have to put up with 12 months of anniversaries, giving I-still-can't-believe-s/he's-gone mourning whores a second chance to wallow in their spurious grief.