Te Tii Marae Kaumatua Kingi Taurua has made a public apology to the Prime Minister following the miscommunication of speaking protocols for Waitangi Day, and is calling for those responsible for the slip-up to step down.
“What I said earlier was wrong. The Prime Minister was right. So I want to wholeheartedly apologise,” Taurua says.
“These young bucks did not have the right to send this letter before we got a chance to approve the response.”
Before leaving the country on Monday Prime Minister Bill English announced he would not attend Waitangi Day commemorations at Te Tii marae or the dawn ceremony because protocols denying him speaking rights at the powhiri were “not acceptable” and “disrespectful” to his role.
Taurua said it was not the PM’s place to determine marae protocol, however, he and Te Tii marae committee members were unaware that letters had been exchanged between marae Chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha and the PM's office detailing “unacceptable conditions” for speaking protocols for Waitangi Day.
“While the protocol for political talk to remain in the tent still stands, I was not aware this ‘Young Buck’ denied the Prime Minister speaking rights at the powhiri to return mihimihi and would instead have to use one of his Māori advisors,” Taurua says.
“That’s not right – regardless of where you come from or what language you speak, it is your right to return a mihimihi at a powhiri.”
Another issue Taurua raises is that the National Party were the sole recipients of the letter.
“What about Labour? What about the Greens? What about New Zealand First? These young bucks have said the only party to receive this letter is National, so that gives the impression the marae is politically bias – the protocol means one rule for all. It is unacceptable.”
Mr Taituha and the Prime Minister were yet to respond to requests for comment.
Reporter Talisa Kupenga has more tonight, 5:30 pm Te Kāea.