Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has defended Jacinda Ardern’s absence from Rātana Pā celebrations this year.
Ardern is currently in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum.
On arrival to Rātana Pā, Peters denied suggestions that Ardern should have been at Rātana and not overseas.
Speaking to media on the PM's noted absence, Peters said, “You can’t be everywhere and there’s a serious conference going on in Davos where she has been and we all understand that. After all, representation there is about this country’s interest economically and socially and so it’s extremely important.”
Hamiora Renata, who has attended Ratana celebrations every year, says, “If [Ardern] was able to attend then great, if not then it’s only appropriate she be represented by someone else."
National Party leader Simon Bridges says although much attention is needed at Rātana to address housing, employment and health issues, it was also appropriate Ms Ardern showed face at the forum on behalf of New Zealand.
Ardern last visited Rātana Pā in November, where she announced $3mil of funding to develop Rātana land for new housing.
Peters says, “Hang on because help is on its way and [that's].. already is the case, with 3.5 million set aside to help the housing and development situation here in Ratana.”
The National Party will arrive at Rātana at 1.30pm this afternoon, followed by Kingitanga and Waikato iwi who arrive at 3pm.