Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 05, 2007

Waitangi marae ready for day

Northern tribes are getting ready to welcome the thousands of people expected for Waitangi Day commemorations.

Kaumatua Kingi Taurua says a large number of MP's and government officials are expected at the lower Te Tii marae today, but they won't get any special privileges.

Mr Taurua says the marae decided not to set any special time for the parliamentarians to turn up.

“They’re coming on not as special guests, they’re coming on with everybody else and they are not going to be treated special. Or different to everyone else. So they will come on with the people, and that’s how it is at the moment yeah,” Mr Taurua says.

Workers have been busy over the past week preparing to feed the thousands of people, preparing vegetables and slaughtering the sheep and cattle donated for the hui.


Meanwhile, for close to three decades, Waitangi Day events have included contributions from the Harawira whanau.

Whether it's matriarch Titewhai Harawira reducing Helen Clark to tears, or walking hand in hand with Jenny Shipley, or son Hone Harawira yelling through the megaphone in front of a crowd of protesters, the presence of the family means lights, cameras, action.

But their contributions are not appreciated by everyone in Ngapuhi.

David Rankin from Nga Mahurehure says he's sick of the Harawiras hijacking events in the north for their own political agendas, and he wants them to stay away.

Mr Rankin says Ngapuhi wants to change its image.

“We want to go backl top the image of our grandparents when Ngapuhi tikanga was held with high esteem, not some thing of the Jerry Springer show where people are getting punched out and pushed around and bullied and abused. That’s not Ngapuhi tikanga. Ngapuhi tikanga is bringing people together,” Mr Rankin says.

He is unlikely to get his wish - this year Mr Harawira, now the MP for Tai Tokerau, intends to use Waitangi for a Maori Party policy launch.


Nine Toi Moko are to be welcomed on to Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington this morning.

The smoked heads have been brought back from the Marischal Museum at the University of Aberdeen as part of the museum's repartiation programme.

Te Taru White, the museum's kaihautu or manager Maori, says they will be welcomed by mana whenua tribes and by Ngai Tahu, which is currently on the museum's paepae.

“We'll be having a powhiri for them on our marae here at Te Papa and then they’ll go into a waahi tapu where they’ll be held until further research is done,” Mr White says.

The origins of some of the other toi moko recovered by the museum has been found using dna testing.


The Minister of Maori Affairs says Waitangi Day has become a celebration of the Maori contribution to New Zealand.

Parekura Horomia says attempts by sovereignty groups to grab headlines such as the proposal to fly a flag off Auckland Harbour Bridge was a waste of time because no-one is trying to deny Maori their rightful place in the celebrations.

“Let’s get the focus right. Waitangi Day is about everybody understanding that there is a tangata whenua in this country, and that’s Maori, and the treaty was the kawenata and the founding document for this nation. That;’s what should be celebrated, that’s what should be worked on. Not to be distracted by issues that come up late, knowing it will grab attention,” Mr Horomia says.


Northern kaumatua Kingi Taurua is expecting some new faces in the protest groups arriving at Waitangi tomorrow.

He says while it was a relatively quiet year last year in terms of protest, many young Maori are now realising they too have a voice.

Mr Taurua says organisers have been notified about a protest groups intention to march to the treaty grounds demanding the government honour its commitments to the treaty.

He says the traditional voices of protest at Waitangi have taken on new roles.

“Titewhai and them, Hone Harawira and them have actually moved to the back but I think they are still there giving some kind of support to the young people, who are not happy with how they are suppressed by government policies. I don’t know how big that protest will be, but in time it will pick up again, the momentum will pick up,” Mr Taurua says.


The Project manager of the Treaty 2 You roadshow says there is still a lot of interest in the treaty among the wider public.

The roadshow, put together by Te Papa, is in Waitangi, as part of a tour of 27 towns and cities around the country.

Kit O 'Conner says last years inaugural road trip proved successful, with both visitor numbers and feedback positive.

“When you set out on a venture like this you’re never really sure, especially with a topic that’s got a lot of contention and a lot of confusion for a lot of people but we averaged over 350 people a day, about 35,0000 people came through in four months last year, so we’re thrilled with that,” Ms O'Conner says.

The roadshow is on the road until early May.


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