5 Feb 2018

VIDEO: PM speaks of nerves ahead of Waitangi speech

10:18 am on 5 February 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talked to Mihingarangi Forbes ahead of the pōwhiri welcoming her and MPs from all the major parties before Waitangi Day tomorrow.

Ms Ardern will be formally welcomed at Waitangi this morning, along with a Parliamentary delegation made up of MPs from Labour, National, New Zealand First and the Greens.

Follow RNZ's live coverage of the day's events

She spoke to Māori Issues Correspondent Mihingarangi Forbes:

Ms Ardern's five-day visit is the longest any Prime Minister has made to Waitangi.

She will speak from the porch of the whare rūnanga during the formal welcome this morning - a first for a female prime minister.

Ms Ardern said she felt like she had been given the privilege of being a part of history.

"I actually feel a huge weight of expectation.

"I do feel like I'm being given the privilege of being a part of history. How do you use that moment in time to best effect? I would like to look back on that moment and feel like I said something that was meaningful. So yes I guess you'll have to wait and see."

Ms Ardern said there was much work to be done generally, and specifically in Northland, there was potential for forestry and tourism.

"We're looking for those partnerships."

She said so far the reception was a positive one.

"I fully acknowledge that they'll be waiting for us to demonstrate that we mean what we say. It is one thing to come here, to share the conversation and have the positive meetings, but the test will be when we stump up and demonstrate we mean it."

Henare 'nervous excited'

Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare was asked about Labour's approach to Waitangi Day celebrations. The minister for Youth, Whānau Ora, and the Community and Voluntary sector, is of Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi.

Watch Mihingarangi Forbes' interview with Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare at Waitangi:

Mr Henare, speaking to Morning Report, also said he was nervous.

"If I'm honest I'm nervous.

"I'm nervous because we're breaking new ground here in many respects, a wahine is speaking on our marae up here, on such an important occasion, not just any wahine at that.

"There have been a lot of challenges and a lot of shade if you like thrown my way but I'm really excited, while nervous I'm excited.

"I've got three girls who look at this and just think 'wow is this our new norm?' And if that's how they grow up and they can stand with confidence just like our prime minister does, I think we're heading in the right direction."

He said there were some among Ngāpuhi wahine who supported the arrangement for the Prime Minister's speech and others who had asked about consultation.

"This is to start the conversation, I'm not saying that from here on out it's going to to be smooth sailing."

Mr Henare said there were some frank conversations during the delegation's visit and there was an opportunity to increase the awareness of Waitangi.

"This is Waitangi. It isn't simply about one moment of protest. We've had variations of protest. People have come and talked, I think there's always room for protest in Waitangi.

"Our opportunity today and with our new PM was really to bring the nation back to Waitangi, not just the protesters and not just the politicians, we want all of our young people, old people, from right throughout the country to at least look this way and think about Waitangi and what Waitangi means."

'We're not there yet' on Kermadec sanctuary

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill is on hold while the government considers how to incorporate Māori into any legislation.

The proposed sanctuary has been in troubled waters since former Prime Minister John Key announced plans for the marine reserve in 2015. The legislation was delayed after widespread opposition from Māori and the fishing sector.

Ms Ardern said the government had a lot of work to do.

"We are very eager to see an increase in the scope of our marine sanctuaries in New Zealand but we also have the history of the foreshore and seabed legislation so we are proceeding with the mind that we need to resolve all of those issues as part of that sanctuary and the last government did not get that into the right place.

"We're not there yet. I want to make sure that we look at and listen particularly to those Māori who did not feel listened to as that piece of work that was done by the last government."

She said there needed to be a conversation about whether to include a "Waitangi" clause in the legislation. There was no timeframe but the government was open to the conversation, she said.

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