23 Jan 2015

Turei slams PM at Ratana

5:48 pm on 23 January 2015

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has strongly criticised the Prime Minister's view that New Zealand was settled peacefully, calling it "disgraceful".

Ratana Pa: Mervyn Harding, Bill English, Peter Dunne, Andrew Little (L-R)

Ratana Pa: Mervyn Harding, Bill English, Peter Dunne, Andrew Little (L-R) Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

She made the comments at Ratana marae near Whanganui, where politicians have been welcomed this afternoon for a three-day annual event, which marks the birthday of the prophet, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Metiria Turei waits to speak at Ratana

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

John Key is overseas and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English led the Government's delegation.

In a speech handed to media, Ms Turei said that Mr Key's view of history was warped, outrageous and offensive.

"The Prime Minister has claimed that New Zealand was settled peacefully. Everybody in this country it seems but him knows that that's wrong," she said.

"He claims that Maori would have been grateful for the capital that the early colonists brought. I think that's a disgraceful way to describe New Zealand's history."

Ms Turei said she would have no problem expressing such criticism in her scheduled speech at Ratana, which she said was a political event.

Proceedings were running so late so she was not able to speak.

Mr English said he was not bothered by Ms Turei's criticism.

"The Greens are, you know, a bit nasty when they can be. I don't think it serves them that well, really," he said.

"John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn't strong political support among Maori for National."

The annual Ratana celebrations.

The annual Ratana celebrations. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Earlier, Opposition and Government MPs had for the first time walked on to Ratana Pa together.

Proceedings were delayed when the powhiri for the Maori King, which started at 9.30am, ran well over time, meaning politicians were welcomed onto the marae early in the afternoon.

It also meant Ms Turei was not able to make her comments in a speech, as she had planned. Proceedings ran so late she was not able to speak.

Andrew Little at Ratana Pa.

Andrew Little at Ratana Pa. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Opposition and goverment ministers are usually greeted separately but Labour leader Andrew Little and Mr English said they were happy to do whatever worked best for Ratana Church officials.

Mr Little admitted he was nervous speaking for the first time on the marae as leader.

He said the relationship between Labour and Ratana was stronger than ever, particularly with Labour now holding the local Maori electorate and six of the seven Maori seats.

Meanwhile Labour MP for Te Tai Hauauru Adrian Rurawhe said winning back the seat from the Maori Party at last year's election has strengthened its long-standing relationship with the Ratana Church.

Mr Rurawhe said he had the support of many who previously backed former MP Tariana Turia.

"It does signify a new beginning in that relationship between Ratana and Labour and I believe that will be expressed on the marae."

But Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she believed Ratana was becoming less political overall.

Labour leader Andrew Little (R) and Te Kahautu Maxwell at Ratana

Labour leader Andrew Little (R) and Te Kahautu Maxwell at Ratana Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The band playing at Ratana in 2015

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

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