Rātana celebrations come to a close for 2016

By Heta Gardiner

Today is the last day for the celebrations of Tahu Pōtiki Wiremu Rātana.  But it was the loose lips, and apparent ingenuine approach of some of the politicians, that has the Minister of Māori Development riled up. 

Yesterday the politicians all went on (to the marae) together, and there was a lot of humour, a lot of laughter. 

But, for the Māori Party co-leader, he believes some of his colleagues took the focus away from the celebrations. 

Te Ururoa Flavell says, "What I saw on the marae yesterday, was people giving out lollies, and personal attacks on individuals.  There is a time and a place for that kind of debate, but the birthday celebrations of Tahu Pōtiki Wiremu Rātana was the right forum for it."

All of the party leaders were given a say on the pae, with Labour leader Andrew Little speaking first.  But the company that he kept is what had the minister of Māori Development bemused. 

"Look at Labour," says Flavell. "They brought two bus loads of people here and they were full of Pākehā.  Did that have any connection at all with these celebrations at Rātana?"

"Then you look at Winston," he continues.  "He stood up and entertained the masses.  I'm sitting there thinking, ha!  This is the man that is opposed to the Treaty process, that has taken issue with some of the claims."

The Māori Party didn't join the frontline with the other politicians, but instead held back.  They say it was to go on humbly, and as a sign of respect for the occasion. 

Something they felt was not apparent, with all who attended.

"Some people are annoyed at the politicians coming in, and taking the focus away from the kaupapa itself," says Flavell.

Andrew Little once compared the Rātana celebrations to a beauty pageant.  Flavell says, "It was like that for some."

Te Ururoa Flavell was the only party leader in attendance at Rātana today.