Government absence noted

Labour list MP David Parker took a potshot at the Government and Dunedin-based Cabinet minister Michael Woodhouse at Waitangi Day commemorations at Otakou marae yesterday.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, he criticised the Government for having no representative at ''the only pan-South Island celebration of the Treaty''.

''A few years ago, they didn't turn up in Bluff either, which was disgraceful on that occasion, too.''

A spokesman for Mr Woodhouse said he was unable to attend the event as he was at ''the national Waitangi Day events at Waitangi [yesterday morning] before heading to Australia on ministerial business with the prime minister''.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei, who on Wednesday became the first female political leader to speak at Te Tii marae at Waitangi, told the ODT the commemorations at Otakou were similar in spirit to those at Waitangi.

''There is a strong focus on protest at Waitangi, but actually it is just like here - hundreds and hundreds of people come to talk about the issues and wanting to have fun together.''

At a local level, she was pleased the Dunedin City Council was leading the expanding relationship between the community and Ngai Tahu.

That sentiment was echoed by the two Dunedin electorate Labour MPs, Clare Curran and David Clark, who both opted to celebrate Waitangi Day in Dunedin.

''This is one of the most important events on the calendar, when Waitangi is in Dunedin at Otakou marae and an absolutely priority for me,'' Ms Curran said.

 

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