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Waitangi live updates: David Seymour heckled, Christopher Luxon speaks

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A foul-mouthed protester was stopped by security after he tried to approach David Seymour during his speech at Te Tii Marae Waitangi.

Protesters also tried to drown out the Act leader by singing over him as tensions run high between members of the Coalition Government and hecklers.

Seymour – the architect of the Treaty Principles Bill which is aimed to redefine the Treaty’s principles – watched on as speakers slammed him over the bill.

Te Arawa lawyer and activist Annette Sykes has asked how he, who didn’t speak te reo, would tinker with the Treaty. Sykes also looked to make fun of Seymour by saying he had to have a woman – his MP Nicole McKee – make the reo speech.

”You’re not off the hook either Prime Minister. How do you let him do this?”

When it was his turn to speak, Seymour responded with, “Sorry what century is that from?”

“Not even Donald Trump is calling his opponents insects yet,” he added, responding to calls that the Government are spiders and sandflies.

Security stopped a heckler who yelled, “F*** up Seymour, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon begun his speech about 1.45pm. It contained very little kōrero about his Government’s policies concerning te reo or the Treaty.



Seymour continued to talk through the singing, saying he would continue working to make the country a beautiful country and one where all had equal rights.

“You can sing, you’re not going to beat an idea anymore than you’re going to beat an idea with a gun,” he said in reference to former minister Peeni Henare’s comments from Saturday.

“We will fight for the rights of every single person whether they have been here for 1000 years or just got here yesterday.”

The crowd was a lot quieter when Prime Minister Christopher Luxon begun his speech around 1.45pm.

Mere Mangu went and fetched Luxon and delivered him hand in hand to the podium on the mahau.

The PM begun with a few sentences of te reo as an introduction to his speech and then entered into a brief history of the signing of the Treaty in English.

“Our pasts are also the stories of what happened to our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents because those events have contributed in some way to who we are today,” Luxon said.

“Part of the history of modern New Zealand has been our struggle to understand the intentions and expectations of those who signed the Treaty, and how we should act as a result. That work is still happening and will keep going.

“Every nation’s past is imperfect. But no other country has attempted to right its historical wrongs or dared to undertake such an ambitious national reconciliation project as we have. While the journey continues, all New Zealanders can take pride.”

Much of the PM’s speech looked forward to his “vision for 2040″.

“I’ve spoken a lot about education since becoming Leader of the National Party and I will continue to do so, because it is the thing that worries me the most. How can a first-world country have 55% of our kids not attending school regularly and our children not knowing the basics well? It’s a future moral and economic disaster,” Luxon said.

“So, our Government will do its part by backing our Kaupapa Māori education system, reintroducing partnership schools, investing in structured literacy, teaching the basics well, and setting clear targets focussed on attendance and achievement so that our kids can have the futures they all deserve.

“Let me end with a message to iwi: I want Te Aō Māori to thrive. When Māori do well, we all know it, New Zealand does well.”

Waitangi National Trust chief executive, Ben Dalton, stook the podium following Luxon and thinking him for turning up.

“In summary, we still have a long way to go…we’re not speaking the same language yet,” Dalton said to laughter from the crowd.

Luxon’s speech had very little kōrero about his Government’s policies concerning te reo or the Treaty. There was no message regarding the Treaty Principles Bill, nor an explanation of National’s position – that it would support the bill to select committee – but hadn’t guaranteed support further.

‘Stop the crap’

Earlier Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters asked the crowd: “Whoever said we were getting rid of the treaty?”

“So stop the crap, stop the hysteria.

“Some of us have been fighting for land rights for decades and where were you?”

“If you think separatism and division will take us to 2040, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Peters said he was raised in a time of respect on the marae, bemoaning how he wasn’t being shown respect.

”You see, get an education,” he said to one person in the ground.

“I used to go to marae where they had tikanga and respect, not people shouting at the speaker,” Peters yelled at his critics.

Peters left the Waitangi Treaty Grounds early, making comments on the way about what he considered to be breaches of protocol.

Earlier McKee referenced the bill, saying Act wanted to confirm what the principles were “in a humble manner”.

“What a joke David Seymour, what a joke. You should be ashamed,” one man called out.

“Do your homework,” one woman called out to McKee and the Government. “Tautoko (support),” said another in response.

Former politician Hone Harawira also spoke saying of the Treaty, “You buggers want to get rid of it.” Seymour shook his head.

“You and your s*****-arse bill are going down the toilet.”

He accused the Government of stripping Māori of their land and language.

”You’re on your own on this one mate,” Harawira said to Seymour, claiming Shane Jones wouldn’t support Seymour.

Harawira spoke of his opposition to the “mining rapists from overseas” – a reference to the Government’s commitment to reopen oil and gas exploration. Jones earlier today defended the move, saying there were tradeoffs that must be made in order to advance technology and science.

“You want to stop te reo? That horse has bolted.

”And the overseas rapists who want to mine our resources? You gotta know that won’t happen.”

All the “Pakeha greenies” and the iwi won’t let it happen, he said.

Earlier NZ First Minister Shane Jones paid respect to the various iwi, the Kīngitanga, and Rātana, acknowledging their journey to Waitangi.

“Remember this, the Treaty of Waitangi is not the Treaty of Wellington, it is not the Treaty of Kohimarama … it is the Treaty of Waitangi.”

He accepted that challenge was normal but he said he was hopeful of finding a solution for each and every whānau.

Treaty approach debated

Te Pāti Māori, Rātana and the Kīngitanga yesterday all rose to the recent challenge laid down by NZ First’s Shane Jones on Sunday by coming to Waitangi marae Te Whare Rūnanga to discuss the Government’s approach to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Members of the three groups, numbering many hundreds, faced an emphatic welcome by Ngāpuhi’s warriors which hundreds came to watch. It completely dwarfed Saturday’s pōwhiri for Labour and the Green Party.

The main kōrero centred around the need for unity, to remain steadfast in the face of challenges to te ao Māori and to continue to oppose some of the new Government’s actions.

However, it was those who weren’t there who got considerable attention, namely Shane Jones and Act leader David Seymour.

At Rātana celebrations last month, Jones – who hails from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) – responded to those criticising the Government’s policies regarding New Zealand’s founding document by stating talk of the Treaty was most appropriate at its birthplace of Waitangi and implored those in the crowd to attend the February 6 celebrations.

Te Taepa Kameta, a representative of the Rātana leader, gave the large crowd a brief laugh by poking fun at Jones and NZ First leader Winston Peters, who would be at Waitangi tomorrow alongside the rest of the Government.

Kameta cheekily asked: “Shane, where are you?”

Many laughed and some clapped. “I am at your house and you are not here.”

NZ First MP Shane Jones at Rātana. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NZ First MP Shane Jones at Rātana. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It was clear the comment was meant partially in jest as Kameta added: “Shane and Winston, I still love you.”

Waititi echoed this when he proclaimed his party had answered Jones’ call.

The other absentee who was regularly referenced was Seymour.

Waititi appealed to the leader of Seymour’s hapū Kipa Munro to “fix” his Ngāti Rēhia whanaunga (relative).

“Kipa, I will leave you to fix your person.

“Outside the House you may fix your person, but in the House, leave him for me and Peeni [Henare, Labour MP] to fix him,” he said to laughs.

However, like many other speakers, he did acknowledge Seymour’s Māori whakapapa (ancestry) and noted how it was Seymour who had driven this most recent unity in Māoridom.

Act leader David Seymour. Photo / Dean Purcell
Act leader David Seymour. Photo / Dean Purcell

Waititi’s primary message to Ngāpuhi was to advocate for Māori self-governance.

“It is for us to govern ourselves,” Waititi declared.

“What is the greatest gift we can give to our grandchildren, it is unity, therefore we must govern ourselves.”

“Let’s stand up our Māori Parliament.”

During the pōwhiri which lasted almost three hours, representatives of various iwi from across the country had their time to speak on the ātea (marae courtyard) with many reflecting calls for unity and strength in the face of perceived threats to the Treaty.

Ngāti Kahungunu leader Bayden Barber also spoke of the importance of discussing the Treaty at Waitangi.

“We have come here to fight, we have come here to share thoughts and strategies with you Ngāpuhi on how we move forward.

“Unite, unite, for we must be united. Remain steadfast te iwi Māori.”

He said if the Government thought it could push Māori down, it had another thing coming.

Many responded to the kōrero from Ngāpuhi rangatira Hone Sadler who said the Government’s arrival tomorrow should be met with peace paired with resilience.

“Don’t fight the wrongs with the wrongs,” he said.

“Even though we are upset and angry, never meet anger with anger.

“Let us remain peaceful, humble but don’t let us drop our guard.”

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi talk to media at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / RNZ / Marika Khabazi
Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi talk to media at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Earlier, co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer arrived with a strong message for the Government calling it a “three-headed taniwha”.

Asked why the party had not joined the other members of the Opposition in the official pōwhiri yesterday, Ngarewa-Packer said her party was fundamentally a part of Mana Motuhake – the united movement of Māori.

“We are not a subset of Labour,” she added.

Waititi added: “Māori have been in opposition since 1840. Not so long ago Labour didn’t want us, we were the party no one wants, so we’re standing with Mana Motuhake so we can just be us.”

Ngarewa-Packer said the key for Te Pāti Māori was that the party “must stand where the call for unity and righteous anger belongs”.

Labour and the Greens are welcomed onto Te Whare Rūnanga at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / Adam Pearse
Labour and the Greens are welcomed onto Te Whare Rūnanga at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / Adam Pearse

The party’s absence from yesterday’s welcome for the Labour and the Greens was referenced by several speakers including Kelvin Davis who said he was disappointed the full Opposition hadn’t joined together.

Te Pāti Māori argued it was distinct from other political parties and felt it more appropriate to walk onto Te Whare Rūnanga alongside the Māori King, which they did at Rātana last month.

Sunday’s crowd was significantly larger to the one that witnessed Labour leader Chris Hipkins pledge to support Ngāpuhi in its opposition to the Government’s agenda on Māori issues.

Hipkins and his MPs made the commitment alongside warnings of “spiders” and a “den of lions” approaching – a reference to the Government’s scheduled arrival at the marae on Monday.

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.

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