Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wound up her first visit to Waitangi conceding she has set high expectations and the real test would be delivering on them.

Ardern ended a five-day visit to Northland after a peaceful Waitangi Day, saying it had "exceeded my expectations".

She acknowledged there was a lot of expectation now for her to deliver on what she had promised.

"There's a lot of expectation around that. Yes we can talk about our general principles and values of what we want to achieve. But the rubber hits the road when we start talking about actual infrastructure projects and the like."


Asked about the warm reception Ardern had, National's most senior MP at Waitangi, Steven Joyce, said the Government had "talked a pretty big game" while in the North.

"As she herself noted, they're going to have to do a lot of work to meet the expectations they've been generating. Next year will be the first test."

There were no protests in Ardern's presence at Waitangi but Te Tii Marae elder Kingi Taurua led a small protest group about that decision up to the upper National Marae while the mid-morning church service was going on.

Ardern credited Ngapuhi rather than herself for the warm atmosphere that pervaded both on the 5th and 6th of February, saying the iwi had driven the commemorations.

Waka crews perform a mass haka during Waitangi Day celebrations. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Waka crews perform a mass haka during Waitangi Day celebrations. Photo / Dean Purcell.

"I know we make it challenging for them because politicians are often the targets."

Joyce said this year's peaceful occasion had been good for Ngapuhi and the North.

"There's always room for people to offer their political opinions, there always should be."

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau said Ardern had begun on a very good footing.


However, the stalled Ngapuhi settlement is one of the tests the Labour Government will now face.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little met with both groups arguing over the settlement negotiations mandate - Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau's Tuhoronuku and the Te Kotahitanga group of Ngati Hine and Hokianga hapu.

Little has said he aims to settle by 2020 and he had told the groups he would get back to them in early March with a proposal to kickstart negotiations again.

Little said it was clear changes had to be made to the mandate given to Tuhoronuku after the Waitangi Tribunal ruled it needed to include hapu more. "There is a real willingness to just get on and to make changes that mean we can just get on.

It is understood NZ First, whose MPs Shane Jones and Winston Peters are both northern Maori, are also pushing for the officials charged with the negotiations to change.

After the Dawn Service, Ardern hosted a barbecue for the public which she estimated more than 800 people attended, requiring a trip to the supermarket to stock up on more supplies.

Ardern's pregnancy was also a topic of discussion at Waitangi. Labour MP Peeni Henare had also suggested Ardern bury her placenta up there according to Maori custom after her baby was born.

Ardern said she had had a brief discussion with partner Clarke Gayford about it and they felt humbled by the offer.

"It felt like something that was quite spontaneous in that moment and because we are so humbled by it is certainly something we are likely to talk with the iwi here about going forward. If we do do that I think we'll keep it to quite a private thing."

Asked if she was feeling pressure from the gifts of baby names and other offers, she said while such matters were personal issues, it did not compare to the pressure of running a country.

Ardern's last appointment was Governor General Patsy Reddy's Bledisloe Reception in Auckland. Dame Patsy, a former Crown Treaty negotiator, said the Treaty was still relevant today.

The Treaty provided a set of principles that underpinned interactions between the Crown and Māori.

"Where there have been past wrongs, the Treaty has provided a pathway for acknowledgement and redress," Dame Patsy said.

Two recent examples of this, which had been "legally revolutionary and world-leading", were the Deeds of Settlement for Tuhoe and the Whanganui River.

"Both are based on te ao Māori, the Māori world view, and give Te Urewera and the Whanganui River rights of their own," Dame Patsy said.