English to skip Waitangi

The Herald reports:

Better relations with Maori mean protests at Waitangi are no longer nationally relevant and many New Zealanders have cringed at recent events, Prime Minister Bill English says.

English today announced he would not attend Waitangi events at Te Tii Marae – saying it isn’t acceptable to him that he can attend but not speak.

Fair enough. It’s insulting to expect the head of government to attend an event but not have full speaking rights.

Little committed to attending Waitangi commemorations if elected prime minister, regardless of whether he was granted speaking rights.

Enjoy that, if you get the chance.

Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua also said English’s no show was disappointing, and said if the Prime Minister didn’t attend he had no right to talk about the Treaty of Waitangi.

“Whatever the Prime Minister thinks, I don’t give a damn. All I am there for is to commemorate the signatories…if Bill English has no commitment to that, then don’t talk about the Treaty of Waitangi ever again.”

You’re the plonker who demanded restrictions on speaking rights so don’t complain when you get the consequences.

English said that after the issues surrounding Key’s attendance last year, his office sought clarification from marae kaumatua that he would be welcomed, with speaking rights.

“My office was advised I could attend the powhiri but not speak – conditions which are not acceptable to me. While I thank the marae committee for their invitation I will take the opportunity to attend commemorative events to celebrate this important day elsewhere.”

English said he had accepted an invitation from the 60 iwi who comprise the Iwi Chair’s Forum to lead a delegation of ministers to Waitangi on February 3.

So he will be at Waitangi in advance of Waitangi Day, and meeting and negotiating with Iwi leaders. But not there for the shouting part.

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