Garner backs English on Waitangi Day


So Prime Minister Bill English has put the hotheads of Te Tii Marae in their rightful place and is giving Waitangi the swerve entirely on our national day.

He’s made the right call: someone had to deal to these self-appointed meatheads who harbour delusional thoughts of a better country under their misguided views of the world and the place of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

Their at-times violent approach is repugnant and has no place in our modern, increasingly confident country.

So I totally back him abandoning Waitangi in favour of attending a series of events, including a reggae concert, in Auckland.  His absence removes these activists’ platform to promote their petulance.

English will instead head to Orakei and Hoani Waititi Marae. It’s a much better choice anyway – a fusion of Maori, Pakeha, Asian and other cultures all enjoying food, performances and celebrating our children, families and country. That’s the way it should be in a mature nation. 

A true celebration.

I’m not sure these people will ever be happy or satisfied. It’s been a problem since 1974. Rob Muldoon always attended Waitangi. David Lange never did. Jim Bolger went until the insults flew. Helen Clark walked away after she was reduced to tears. John Key promised to always go until they banned him from speaking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I’m not even sure if the Waitangi mob can articulate what their issues are. Protest in a democracy is good. I support it. But not violence and thuggery.

Yes the treaty was breached – and we’ve spent decades setting up processes, writing cheques and apologising. Have these “activists” not noticed that the Maori Party has been part of the Government for the past eight years?

They have a seat at the most powerful table in the country. They are included, not excluded.

It’s not this Government that should be vilified by Maori. If anything, the worst anti-Maori decisions came from the previous Labour administration. They blocked Maori from going to court to fight for legal rights to the foreshore and seabed and then there were those poorly judged and executed Tuhoe raids.

If the “activists” bothered to look, Bill English has privately worked to engage genuinely with Maori for more than a decade. But that won’t suit their narrative.

English has done more to understand Maori and their issues than any other finance minister or prime minister I can recall. He deserved better from Te Tii Marae. Ask any Maori at the coalface of change and policy and they know English cares deeply about how policy affects their families.

My children are Maori. Two of them speak the language fluently. I am proud of who they are and what they stand for. 

They stand as both proud and independent young Maori women and proud New Zealanders. That’s not the face of the future – that’s what’s happening now.

Well said Duncan.

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