Prime Minister John Key made it safely onto Te Tii Marae this
morning after a tense stand-off over who should escort him.
After lengthy negotiations, Titewhai Harawira managed to get
Mr Key's left hand first, and other kuia Naida Glavish and
Ani Taurua - the marae's choice of escort - stood in a line
There was some yelling - one man called out "if you don't own
it, you can't sell it."
But the most upset was about Mrs Harawira escorting the Prime
Minister - one man yelling out "tikanga o Te Tii" to protest
As the time drew near for Mr Key to arrive at the marae this
morning, Mrs Harawira could be seen standing at one side of
the entrance surrounded by family members and with top Maori
policeman Superintendent Wally Haumaha in attendance, and Mrs
Taurua standing some distance away on the other side.
Mr Haumaha could be heard urging Mrs Harawira's daughter
Hinewhare to step to one side at one point, saying "no
violence, no violence we are not going to put the Prime
Minister in this position."
Mrs Harawira was flanked by family, including Hinewhare and
one of her sons.
As the stand-off between the two kuia continued, onlookers
also took sides - some supporting Mrs Taurua's claim by
calling out "Kia Kaha aunty."
The Herald understands that police told the Harawira family
they were holding the whole country to ransom.
At one point marae kaumatua Kingi Taurua pointed at the
Harawira group and began shouting at them.
The kuia in the stand-off appeared to have reached a deal to
share the job after some tension.
The impasse was broken only after a further testy exchange
when Mr Taurua proposed a compromise, drawing a stiff rebuke
from Mrs Harawira of "no Kingi, get out" as the women began
singing to drown him out.
After a further attempt. Mr Taurua's patience snapped and he
told Mrs Harawira to "shut your bloody mouth."
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira's wife Hilda
Halkyard-Harawira told the Herald the women had sorted it, as
they should. "It's their business".
As Mr Key was escorted on, Mrs Harawira was next to him and
Mrs Taurua was close by.
Someone close to the kuia said: "Hinewhare stop pushing me",
to Mrs Harawira's daughter.
- Claire Trevett and Yvonne Tahana of the New Zealand