There are some things about living in New Zealand for which we can be extremely grateful. Sure, there are heaps of things with this country which are flat out wrong, even evil. They call for relentless, determined exposure at every opportunity. But there are also some things which are rather cool.
Here is one example. The northern Maori tribe, Ngapuhi is dysfunctional at best. Always at this time of the year there is controversy over the national holiday, Waitangi Day because, on the one hand, Ngapuhi hosts the memorial celebrations since it was in their territory that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Crown and Maori tribes in 1840. But this national celebration has been captured as a platform for Ngapuhi radicals to voice their grievances against the government.
Recently, the controversy has narrowed down to whether the Prime Minister should be invited to attend, and, if invited, whether he should be granted speaking rights. For the past two years, the PM has been invited, but forbidden to speak. Last year the PM declined to attend. Ngapuhi cut of their collective nose to spite their face. The same has fallen out this year.
The PM, Bill English was invited, but denied speaking rights. He consequently declined to attend.
English said that after the issues surrounding Key's attendance last year, his office sought clarification from marae kaumatua that he would be welcomed, with speaking rights. "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." [NZ Herald]One Ngapuhi elders, in particular reacted:
Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua also said English's no show was disappointing, and said if the Prime Minister didn't attend he had no right to talk about the Treaty of Waitangi. "Whatever the Prime Minister thinks, I don't give a damn. All I am there for is to commemorate the signatories...if Bill English has no commitment to that, then don't talk about the Treaty of Waitangi ever again." [NZ Herald]
Ngapuhi kaumatua Kingi Taurua said he was surprised at Mr English's decision, saying kaumatua and trustees had decided that this year political discussion would take place in a tent outside the marae. "Bill English has his rules and protocol for their marae in Wellington and if we break that protocol we could end up in jail," he said. "There's always been a boil and it needs to be pierced. Running away does not pierce that boil ... I say to Bill English don't be a spoilt child and run away, come to Waitangi." [NZ Herald]But the next day, Kingi Taurua apologized in a very public way.
Taurua told the Herald that he had mistakenly believed that English had only been told he could not talk politics during the powhiri. He now felt he had "egg on my face" after he called on English not to be "a spoilt child and run away", and wanted to meet the Prime Minister on his return from an official visit to Europe to offer an apology. "I wouldn't go either. If I got that letter, telling me not to speak and to get somebody else to speak on my behalf, I wouldn't go anywhere near the place." [NZ Herald]And this from another paper:
After seeing the letters exchanged between his iwi and the Prime Minister's office, which said English could not speak at all on the marae unless a Maori representative did so for him, Kingi Taurua said he's "ashamed" and "disgusted" by the treatment given to the Prime Minister. "I didn't know the letter contained that he wasn't permitted to speak and if so he had to get someone Maori to speak for him. I express my apologies to the Prime Minister for that and I'm very ashamed."
On Monday Taurua attacked English's decision not to attend Waitangi events, saying he needed to respect marae protocol that political talks would happen away from the marae following the powhiri. He's now asking for English's forgiveness. [Stuff]
Kingi Taurua has recovered his mana. Sometimes it's great to be a citizen of New Zealand. Taurua has honoured the Treaty of Waitangi more than he probably comprehends at this moment. He has made plenty of others proud to be New Zealanders.