Topic: Politics

Kīngitanga-Government relations "warm" in lead-up to Waikato regatta

By Talisa Kupenga

Next month the Government is expected to descend on the King Country for the 128th Turangawaewae Regatta. But where does the Government-Kīngitanga relationship stand given the Māori King's public endorsement of the Māori Party during the election campaign, and Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta taking the seat?

With Waitangi and Ratana visits now over the next big iwi event for the Prime Minister will be in Waikato.

Political Advisor and Acting spokesman for the Kīngitanga Tuariki Delamere says, "The Prime Minister, the Māori Ministers and MPs have all been invited. Certainly, Nanaia will be there but the Prime Minister's timetable hasn't been confirmed yet, although we are aware that she definitely wants to come."

The regatta invites more warm than the cold-shoulder shown to the Labour Party and Mahuta last year when her cousin the King endorsed Māori Party Candidate Rāhui Papa during the election campaign.

Delamere says, "There was a degree of misunderstanding as to the objectives of both sides but right now it's good."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "From my perspective, we're starting afresh and I won't let that taint any of our engagement."

Delamere says he and Mahuta have met this year but Mahuta would not comment whether she had met or had plans to meet with the Kingitanga before the regatta. She did say she has "a warm and positive relationship with the King and is very much looking forward to catching up with him at the event".

Prime Minister Ardern says, "I would certainly agree [that the relations are warm]. For us though it's about then saying well what we can do together and I've had very preliminary conversations, as I say informally. I would like to make sure that we put a bit more time and invest into that relationship and extend that when I meet them at the end of March."

Delamere says, "Nanaia certainly recognises his majesty is the King she is the Minister and for the benefit of all of us Māori and New Zealanders we've got to work together or they have to work together and they're both very keen to do that."

The two-day event will take place March 17.