New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Titewhai Harawira
are welcomed with a powhiri at Te Tii Marae. (Photo by
Jason Oxenham/Getty Images)
A protester threw a bag of pilchards in the path of Prime
Minister John Key as he left Te Tii marae today, but missed
He later told Tautoko FM in Te Reo that he was making a
statement about the environment.
Mr Key, whose speech was drowned out by the throngs singing
outside Te tiriti o Waitangiwhare, told the gathering that
Maori were better off under a National government.
He said Maori had gained in education and employment since
National had been in power.
Mr Key said oil exploration was for the benefit of New
Zealand and despite concerns from protesters opposed to deep
sea mining, he said there was nothing to fear.
"Do you seriously think as Prime Minister I'm going to
oversee some kind of economic carnage of our country?"
He left the whare again flanked by Titewhai Harawira and her
daughter Hinewhare, who he could be seen laughing with.
Mr Key was supposed to have been welcomed on to Te Tii marae
at 10am but was delayed more than 90 minutes by a group
calling for his sacking.
The diverse group of Maori, Pakeha, Pacific Islanders and
members of the Mana and Greens parties converged on Te Tii
Marae at Waitangi to protest against deep-sea drilling in the
Far North and to raise other environmental concerns.
The group, who began their hikoi at Cape Reinga, were largely
peaceful and good-natured but some members began shouting at
Mr Key's sizeable entourage that included a number of
Mr Key was again brought on to the marae by a frail looking
Titewhai Harawira and her daughter, Hinewhare, who was
yesterday ejected from the marae during a visit by
Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Government ministers including Economic Development Minister
Steven Joyce were forced to wait outside the marae shoulder
to shoulder with the protesters but with little apparent
ill-feeling until the hikoi was taken on to the marae by
The fireworks promised by protesters opposed to deep sea
mining have been surprisingly absent from the powhiri with
many holding signs that are more environmentally focused
rather than demanding the crown honours the Treaty.
The marae, which is packed with media, has been calm this
morning with good-natured speeches.
Labour leader David Cunliffe, who recently spoke of improved
relations between his party and Maori, is due to go on to the
marae after Mr Key.
Locals from Te Tii marae said the occasion had been "fairly
low key and tame'' compared with previous celebrations.
Among the first politicians to arrive at Te Tii Marae this
morning was Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei.
Mrs Turei was with the hikoi of about 70 protesters opposed
to deep sea oil drilling and mining.
"We support the kaupapa of the hikoi. This is about
protecting our oceans. John Key is not listening to the
community about this and the community is bringing it to him.
That's the right thing to do,'' she said.
Hikoi organiser Reuben Porter said the powhiri for Mr Key and
his entourage of national MPs had breached tikanga by not
being held outside where the public could address their
"This is for Maori and Pakeha as well,'' he said.
- James Ihaka of the New Zealand Herald