Waitangi Day 2024: Coalition partners head to Treaty grounds

The coalition government is bracing for a confronting reception at Waitangi this morning as Māori leaders promise a united front.

Thousands have already begun gathering for the annual commemorations and to carry on the kōrero begun at last month’s nation-wide hui.

National, ACT and New Zealand First are set to be welcomed onto the Treaty grounds about 11am.

The scene has been set over the weekend, as opposition parties, iwi leaders and the Kiingitanga arrived on Te Whare Runanga in a show of solidarity.

The repeated call was one of kotahitanga – or unity – an invocation to stand together and fight, but not with violence.

Kiingitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa told RNZ the coalition parties would not go to sleep at night wondering what te ao Māori was thinking.

“We should be conducting ourselves in the mana of our tīpuna [ancestors] and we should be doing it in a rangimarie [peaceful] way, but absolutely getting our points across.

“The more that they hear it, the more it washes over them, the passion of te ao Māori to protect our founding documents.”

Bayden Barber – of Ngati Kahungunu – said the message to the coalition was clear: Te Tiriti is off-limits.

“We can talk about other things. We can talk about policies that you want to put in or take out. But the Treaty is tapu, it’s sacrosanct, leave it alone.”

Speaking during Sunday’s powhiri, Ngāpuhi rangatira Hone Sadler acknowledged the anger and hurt many felt toward the coalition but urged them “not to stoop to their level”.

“Never meet anger with anger,” he said.

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

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