A Ngapuhi elder who called Bill English a “spoiled child” for not attending this year’s Waitangi commemorations says he’s “embarrassed” about his comments.
After seeing the letters exchanged between his iwi and the Prime Minister’s office, which said English could not speak at all on the marae unless a Maori representative did so for him, Kingi Taurua said he’s “ashamed” and “disgusted” by the treatment given to the Prime Minister.
“I didn’t know the letter contained that he wasn’t permitted to speak and if so he had to get someone Maori to speak for him. I express my apologies to the Prime Minister for that and I’m very ashamed.”
On Monday Taurua attacked English’s decision not to attend Waitangi events, saying he needed to respect marae protocol that political talks would happen away from the marae following the powhiri. He’s now asking for English’s forgiveness.
In a letter (readable in full at the bottom of this page) to English’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, the Waitangi marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha stated “small but significant changes” to the powhiri including, “your Maori representatives speak or mihi on the Prime Minister’s behalf during the powhiri…and then at the conclusion of the powhiri process we will provide a stage and forum for the Prime Minister to engage with Ngapuhi, address the nation and talk politics freely and uninhibited, if he so wishes”.
So Ngapuhi unilaterally decided that the PM is not even allowed to speak for himself at the powhiri, no matter what is said.
They of course can make whatever rules they want for their marae. Just as the Prime Minister of New Zealand can choose to go to another venue which will give him unrestricted speaking rights.
Maybe David Seymour is right, and the PM should rotate his Waitangi Day attendance around the different Iwi and maraes of New Zealand.