On Tuesday, leaders voted 38-14 in favour of stopping Key attending, but were overruled by Ngapuhi elders.
Key said marae trustees had issued him a formal invitation after another meeting on Tuesday night, with “all of the same privileges and procedures there’ve been in the past”, and he would attend the event.
However, the large crowds of protesters expected at Waitangi were a complication, with the possibility that it could be too unsafe for him to get onto the marae.
“In a practical sense, if there’s so many people that they physically block the cars from getting in, I can just envisage a situation where I don’t actually get on the lower marae.”
He was “not looking for an excuse to get out”, and said he was happy to defend the Government’s support for the TPPA deal at Waitangi.
Almost any other PM would have happily take the vote as a great reason to not attend, and make them look ridiculous. It is a measure of his commitment to good faith relations that Key is willing to endure the abuse and threats.
I’m not optimistic that the radicals won’t go over the top and it could get very nasty.