February 06, 2019
Dignity intact as Waitangi challenges widen
The Government has emerged from Waitangi Day with its dignity intact but with increased expectations about what will be in this year’s wellness Budget for Māori.
The welcome to political parties was consolidated into one tightly-managed event at the Treaty Grounds, giving National Party leader Simon Bridges a chance for political grandstanding that was quickly slapped down by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Yesterday’s dawn service was also tightly run, with the participants sticking to the script until Ngāpuhi Rūnanga chair Sonny Tau popped up at the end with a sideswipe at the Prime Minister’s response to a pop quiz on the words in the Treaty of Waitangi.
That earned him the ire of Ngāpuhi elders including former Labour Cabinet Minister Dover Samuels, who felt it wasn’t helpful to the continuing effort to get Ngāpuhi claims back to the negotiating table.
Mr Samuels joined his former colleagues in efficiently dishing out a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages after the service.
Hobson’s Pledge founder Don Brash got as good as he gave at the forum tent at the lower Te Tii Marae, with the crowd of about 300 shouting down his litany of complaints about the use of te reo Māori and what he described as special programmes for Māori.
Destiny Church head Brian Tamaki also used the occasion to raise his profile, holding a march up to the upper marae to push for his church’s Man Up programme to be given government funding and access to prisons.
He scored a private meeting with Justice Minister Andrew Little, who told him the Government was open to any positive ideas but to go through official channels.
Bishop Tamaki’s service at the lower marae yesterday was in competition to the official mid-morning service at the Whare Rūnanga, where Anglican Bishop Kito Pikaahu enlisted New Zealand First MP Shane Jones to deliver the sermon.
Mr Jones compared the throaty roar of the Destiny supporters’ motorcycles with the trumpets that brought down the walls of Jericho, and said the voices of din will not smash the traditions traceable back to the Treaty of Waitangi.
Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said Waitangi was a place to reflect on the progress made over the year and where the Government and the nation needs to go.
"Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a living document. We will constantly be assessing the areas where we still have a lot of work to do but also as time goes on having a chance to reflect on what we have achieved as well together," she said.
Jacinda Ardern then headed away from the throngs around Waitangi to rally her minister to deal with the fires devastating the Nelson area.
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