Richard Harman writes:
His decision not to go to Waitangi itself left him open to criticism that it was the responsibility of the Prime Minister to be at Waitangi whether the mood there was “good or bad” as Labour Leader Andrew Little put it
Yet Little himself has said he now won’t go, due to the media ban. Little has been all over the place on this. On the same day where he conceded he would not attend in future (if ban not lifted), he had an op ed appear attacking Bill English for not attending. Own goal.
All of this made Labour’s complaints about the Prime Minister not being there look a little lame.
Indeed, privately, Labour MPs at Waitangi, said it might have been better if the party had also reserved its position about attending and left the option open of walking out of Te Tii.
Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare said his grandfather, Sir James Henare, a Tai Tokerau leader, had long regarded the Te Tii Marae as trouble and had therefore refused ever to visit it.
Little ended up saying that if the media ban were still in place year, Labour would not attend.
A pretty bad weekend for Little with his position on Waitangi becoming ridiculous and the backlash to his handpicked Willie Jackson candidature.
Meanwhile Bill English got a great reception at Orakei Marae:
But in two speeches at Ngati Whatua’s Orakei Marae he set out the Government’s commitment to the Treaty partnership in one of his most fluent and relaxed presentations since assuming the Prime Ministership last December.
And he also had a no drama call with the President of the United States. English’s decision to bypass Waitangi turned out to be incredibly well judged.