Ngāpuhi elder reacts to Key's speech at Te Tii

By Maiki Sherman

All eyes were on Te Tii Marae as Prime Minister John Key arrived to the marae to represent the Government.  Despite there being no trouble, people still made their concerns felt.

They say Te Tii Marae is the right place to discuss and debate issues between Māori and the Crown, and this year we saw exactly that.

However, the question is whether the discussions were satisfactory?  

Te Kāea was fortunate enough to have our camera in the marae to exclusively capture the speeches.

The tension usually begins at the entrance of Waitangi.  However, no chance of that, John Key wasn't mucking around.  

It was a strong and fierce welcome but was well-controlled.

Bill English took up the first challenge.  But the big one was for the Prime Minister.

However, while he was in the meeting house a couple of people were outside shouting criticism over sovereignty and whether or not Māori ceded it.

“The future of New Zealand isn't arguing about different versions of the Treaty in my book. That isn't going to feed kids or house people or get them jobs,” says Key.

Kingi Taurua presented this letter to John Key, signed by hundreds of Ngāpuhi descendants.

Taurua says, “There are many on the Waitangi Tribunal who are more adept than the Government, who have more expertise than the Government.  The Government is simply looking for reasons to be critical of the Tribunal.”   

The war against ISIL was also debated, which put John Key in defence mode.

“The very people who tell me their whole DNA is laced with human rights and standing up for people who can't protect themselves, tell me to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burnt alive and thrown off buildings. I'm sorry but give me a break,” says Key.

However, his comments over the Ngāpuhi claim were the last straw.

Key says, “You are the arguably most populated iwi in the country.  You have some people in the greatest of need.  You have settlement which is going to be by any definition of Treaty settlements, large.  It has the capacity to make a huge difference to the people of the North.”

Taurua says, “It's the Government's responsibility to address housing and employment issues, that's their job.  We pay taxes for that very purpose.”

Taurua says, all-in-all, Key was somewhat arrogant and condescending.

Key says, “I'm not here to navigate the politics or whatever the issues are up north.  All I can say is the Government is here as a willing partner to want to engage and hopefully settle.”

“That's what the Government does, criticise.  But he has no expertise in this area, he is simply the Prime Minister.  When it comes to Māori history he knows nothing,” says Taurua.  

Perhaps it's a sign of third term-itis, or simply another case of things getting "lost in translation" between Treaty of Waitangi partners. 

Following the Government's welcome, the Labour Party was called onto Te Tii Marae.

This is the first time Andrew Little has been welcomed on as leader, and of course, Taurua had a challenge for him as well.

He says the Labour Party needs to get back to its core values, workers and their families, and if they do that they'll win back the Māori vote.