Prime Minister Bill English has accepted the invitation of iwi leaders to lead a delegation of ministers to Waitangi to meet ahead of Waitangi Day celebrations, and announced he will not attend the annual powhiri at Te Tii Marae.
“I am looking forward to meeting with the leaders of the 60 iwi who comprise the Iwi Chair’s Forum, to progress a range of issues of importance to Maoridom and New Zealand,” Mr English says.
“The National-led government has formed a strong relationship with these leaders which has led to significant progress in areas including Treaty settlements, fresh water rights and the development of the Maori economy.”
The Prime Minister will attend the meeting on February 3 but celebrate Waitangi Day in Auckland.
“After the issues surrounding the previous Prime Minister’s attendance at Te Tii Marae last year, my office sought clarification from marae kaumatua that I would be welcomed and able speak about issues of importance to New Zealand, as is tradition.
“However, my office was advised I could attend the powhiri but not speak – conditions which are not acceptable to me.
“While I thank the marae committee for their invitation I will take the opportunity to attend commemorative events to celebrate this important day elsewhere.”
Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will lead a Government delegation to the dawn service in Waitangi on Waitangi Day.
Featured Image, obtained from Bil English Website.