While claiming a warm reception at Te Tii Marae yesterday,
Labour was snubbed by those at Maoridom's top table, who were
meeting the Government nearby.
In a day relatively free of the drama which has marked
previous pre-Waitangi Day events, David Cunliffe said he and
his colleagues were given a ''heart-warming'' welcome during
his first visit to the marae as Labour leader.
Down the road, Prime Minister John Key and senior ministers
met the Iwi Chairs Forum at its annual Waitangi conference.
Outside Te Tii Marae, Mr Cunliffe said: ''Strangely enough we
haven't yet had an invitation''.
''That's a very interesting state of affairs because most
leadership groups at least try to pay lip service to
bipartisanship in an election year.''
Labour Maori affairs spokesman Shane Jones was more
forthright, likening it to a whakapohane or ''bare-arsed
''It's unfortunate that their treatment of the next
government is in this vein. They will find that snubs are
often found on a two-way street.''
Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi chairman Sonny Tau, who is also
chairing the Iwi Leaders Forum this week, said it was the
forum's policy to talk only to the Government at the Waitangi
''The issues we raise can only be addressed by the government
of the day.
''If we invited Labour we'd have to invite every political
party across the spectrum and we don't have time to do
Mr Key said his message to the iwi leaders was that ''if you
look at the progress and achievements of this Government in
the last five and a bit years we can point to a very strong
track record'' on Maori issues.
Mr Key will again speak to the iwi leaders today, when he
will underline his Government's record on completing Treaty
of Waitangi settlements, a message of significance to host
Ngapuhi, which is close to reaching a deal.
''We've been on a rapid train of progress. It's working
During his visit to Te Tii earlier yesterday, which he said
was the calmest in many years, Mr Key challenged Joel
Bristow, a representative of an anti-deep sea oil drilling
hikoi, which had delayed his entrance.
He later said he challenged Mr Bristow to ''come to
Wellington, spend a week with my ministers and their
ministries. If at the end of that week you're proved to be
right in the assertions you're making I'll join your protest,
but if you're proved to be wrong go back and tell the
Yesterday, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei become the first
female political leader to speak at the marae.
''It was an incredible honour and a little scary'', she said
Former Labour prime minister Helen Clark was given the
opportunity to speak several years ago but was shouted down
''I think I was given this honour because the Green Party has
had such a consistent commitment to Maori issues,'' Mrs Turei