Waitangi ceremonial plans up for discussion

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Where will the Prime Minister be welcomed for Waitangi Day celebrations? It's one of the important questions to be addressed at a meeting at the Te Tii Waitangi Marae this Friday. It follows numerous calls to move the welcoming of dignitaries to the treaty grounds after the Prime Minister was told he was not welcome on the marae this year.

It's a meeting called by the Chair of the Waitangi National Trust Pita Paraone to resolve an issue he says many want to be addressed.

“They are fed up that there is no set protocol for the welcoming of guests on the marae. That's why they have told me that perhaps it's time to move the welcomes to the treaty grounds.”

The elder spokesman for Kingi Taurua says, “What I did this year wasn't activism or belittlement but my role is to care for Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the 1835 Declaration as governments have continuously trampled these covenants into the dust so they become lost like the moa.”

Kingi says his thoughts haven't changed since the Prime Minister signed the TPP agreement before coming to Waitangi this year.

“Those who wish to support the government should go up to the treaty grounds to do so.  The other option would be for me to step aside because I will not welcome the enemy.”

Pita Paraone says it wouldn't be a first to move the welcoming of guests to Waitangi up to the treaty grounds. But he'd like people from across Northland to attend the meeting at Te Tiii Marae this Friday to fully discuss the matter.

“I think welcoming our guests is of utmost priority. Those who wish to protest, well that's another issue. But more importantly, we must welcome visitors to Waitangi the same way our forefathers did.”