February 04, 2016
Damp start to Waitangi festivities
The parade has well and truly been rained on at Waitangi.
Waitangi elders are bristling at Prime Minister John Key calling them Mickey Mouse for the way they have handled the invitation for him to be welcomed on their marae.
Mr Key yesterday called off his appearance because he was not guaranteed the opportunity to speak, and he’ll go elsewhere to mark Waitangi Day.
He says kaumatua Kingi Taurua and others made inflammatory comments that if he did go on to the marae and speak about the Trans Pacific Partnership, that would incite protests and potentially violence.
It’s the first time a prime minister has failed to front at the lower marae since Helen Clark stopped going in 2000, and it has some suggesting it was like a rat or kiore abandoning ship.
Mr Taurua says he’s disappointed not only that the prime minister refused to attend but that he’s blaming him for his absence.
He says Mr Key was welcome to make his case for the trade deal in the speaker’s tent next to the marae.
His absence is likely to take some of the heat out of today’s activities on the marae, which start with a welcome for the diplomatic corps at 8am.
But it means he’ll miss the rain, which started before dawn and is set to continue through the day.
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