7 Feb 2016

Calls for new Waitangi Day venue

6:29 am on 7 February 2016

The organiser of the Waitangi Festival is considering whether Te Tii Marae is the most suitable place to welcome the Crown at future Waitangi Day events.

Te Tii Marae

Te Tii Marae Photo: RNZ

Pita Paraone said he had been approached by many Ngapuhi elders who were upset that Prime Minister John Key stayed away this year, after confused messages from the marae at Te Tii.

Mr Key did not attend Waitangi after being denied speaking rights by Te Tii Marae trustees.

Mr Paraone said the elders suggested Ngapuhi should give up on Te Tii, and move the government powhiri up to the carved meeting house on the Treaty grounds, or to another local marae.

About 200 anti-TPP protesters are welcomed onto Te Tii Marae in Waitangi.

About 200 anti-TPP protesters are welcomed onto Te Tii Marae in Waitangi. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

That used to happen in earlier years, when Sir James Henare was the chief, he said.

The prime minister's absence cast a pall over Waitangi this year and may have affected visitor numbers, which were down 20 percent, he said.

However, rain was also thought to be a factor.

Mr Paraone said Ngapuhi needed to be able to greet the leaders of the country in a place that was predictably safe and stable , and the Waitangi marae at Te Tii was too inconsistent.

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