PM visits Waipatu Marae, Hastings

By Heta Gardiner

The prime minister was at Waitapu Marae in Hastings today, in the heart of former Minister Meka Whaitiri's electorate.  Housing, education and employment were some of the issues under discussion.  

This visit was particularly significant for Whaitiri.  Just eight months ago, Whaitiri 'stood aside' from her portfolios after a staff member made allegations of assault against her.

At the time the prime minister said Whaitiri fell short of the standards expected of a minister.

Today, however, Ardern publicly acknowledged the efforts of Whaitiri as an MP.

“I acknowledge Louisa Wall, Kelvin Davis, Willie Jackson, and especially Meka Whaitiri," said Ardern, "She has maintained that spirit that Parekura [Horomia] had, working always on behalf and for the people, and Meka, I acknowledge that- that is exactly who you are and what you do.”

Despite the positive atmosphere, the iwi still put their issues to the government.

Ngahiwi Tomoana, the chair of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, said, “We offer to the prime minister today that we have local solutions to local problems if the government could relax some of its own laws and structures and bureaucracy around us to find our own solutions.”