The waka crews take part in the celebrations on a wet and
cold Waitangi Day. Photo / Dean Purcell
Wet and blustery weather has failed to keep the crowds
away from Waitangi with hundreds pouring on to the Treaty
The grounds and its surrounds are buzzing with people of all
ethnicities enjoying the festivities on what marks 174 years
since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
Amongst the crowds were Labour Leader David Cunliffe and his
Maori Affairs spokesman Shane Jones who, despite the weather,
"had a bit of a splash at the beach" helping haul in a waka.
"The waka master Hector Busby decided it was cutting up too
rough to leave this very, very precious waka out on the water
so they called for volunteers to help pull it in," said Mr
"Jonesy and me were in suits so off came the jackets, off
came the shoes and socks and we rolled up our trousers and
got into it.
"It was a lovely experience to part of it with the young
rangatahi so it was a very special moment."
Earlier this morning a number of waka departed from the Te
Tii shoreline in front of an appreciative audience with a
group of about 20 elderly pakeha performing a haka for the
kai hoe (paddlers).
A group opposed to deep sea mining in Te Reinga Basin
completed their hikoi to the upper marae with a powhiri
outside te whare runanga at Waitangi this afternoon with a
peaceful but spirited demonstration.
Group spokesman Joel Bristow, who yesterday received an offer
from Prime Minister John Key to go to Wellington to discuss
his concerns about deep sea mining, said he was considering
"We were here to deliver a message and not cause distraction
as John Key initially said.
"It was about delivering a message to our people that is we
are trying to offer alternatives to our economy and
Also at the upper marae at Waitangi were Ian and Katherine
Kerr with their son Jake.
The family from near Kerikeri said Waitangi was a
"quintessential New Zealand experience" that Kiwis should
participate in before heading overseas.
"It's a bit quieter this year, we were hoping to get warmed
up by a bit of hot korero actually," said Mr Kerr.
"I get tired of people saying on talkback that it's bad here,
these people need to get here and get into it and see what
it's all about."
Dozens more are enjoying the stalls below the golf course at
"It's been an awesome day," said Megan Vercoe, 16, of
Ruakaka, who has come to Waitangi for the festivities for the
"I think all New Zealanders should come here and see it for
themselves, it's a special experience."
Iwi to PM: We will seek $500m
New Zealand's largest iwi is seeking the biggest ever Treaty
settlement - $500m to $600m.
Ngapuhi runanga chair Sonny Tau gave that figure as he
responded to Prime Minister John Key's offer during his
Waitangi Day speech of an interim financial payment to
incentivise Ngapuhi to settle quickly.
Following Mr Key's speech, Mr Tau said that because Ngapuhi
was four times larger than Tainui, Ngai Tahue or Tuhoe which
had settlements of about $170 million, it was looking for a
settlement four times larger.
"It's about $500 million or $600 million."
Ngapuhi is closing in on a deal with the Crown but a
significant hurdle remains as the iwi has yet to fully agree
on which body should handle the settlement.
"My challenge to all Ngapuhi today is this: put aside your
differences", Mr Key said following this morning's dawn
service at Waitangi.
"The Crown is ready and willing to negotiate with whovever
you choose as your representatives."
Mr Key said he was keen to see a deal struck this year.
"If that can be done I am prepared to look at some form of
payment on account to incentivise people to act in a positive
and progressive manner."
Speaking to reporters after Mr Key speech, Mr Tau, the
chairman of Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi said the offer wasn't
solicited but it was welcome.
"Everybody knows that iwi when they go along the settlement
route they have to pay for their things themselves. It's cost
us $3.5 million to get where we are today. We've had no
assistance and But Mr Tau said the payment was unlikely to
speed up Ngapuhi's settlement process.
"The incentive for us is the drive to get our iwi grievances
behind us and build an economic base for Ngapuhi."
Responding to the figures offered by Mr Tau, Mr Key said:
"You've got to dream big but it doesn't mean we'll be writing
a cheque for that amount".
Nevertheless,"It's going to be a big deal" he said.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson made the point
the Crown had not yet recognised a properly-mandated Ngapuhi
entity to conduct formal negotiations with.
The Government expects to make a decision on whether to
recognise the runanga's Tuhoronuku mandate within weeks.
However opposition to Mr Tau's group negotiating of behalf of
all Ngapuhi's hapu was clearly evident in the form of
protests at Te Tii Marae yesterday.
"It's the size of that protest that matters'', Mr Tau said,
"and we think that is insignificant."
But Crown recognition of the Tuhoronuku mandate is likely to
trigger a Waitangi Tribunal claim by rival groups while the
runanga is likely to also launch a claim of its own if it
does receive recognition which could derail Mr Key's wish for