Bill English proposes taking Waitangi Day 'on the road'

Prime Minister Bill English has announced he won't attend Treaty grounds on Waitangi Day.

"Waitangi does not represent well the relationship between Māori and Pākehā in New Zealand," he said on Sunday.

"New Zealanders, including a lot of Māori, [aren't proud of] the shenanigans that go on."

Mr English is calling for Waitangi Day "to represent truly the pride New Zealand should have for achievements around the Treaty".

On February 5 this year, the day before Waitangi Day, Bill English decided not to attend events at Treaty grounds after he was told he could attend but not speak.

He instead spent his first Waitangi Day as Prime Minister at Ōrākei Marae and Hoani Waititi.

Marae elder Kingi Taurua had said there was a blanket ban on political discussion on the marae itself, but that the Prime Minister would still have been able to speak after the welcoming ceremony.

Mr English said at the time, the decision wasn't "respectful of [his] role" and spoke of the "cringe" protests on Treaty grounds.

"There was a time when protest at Waitangi was nationally relevant 15, 20 years ago but that time's passed because we've made so much progress on relations with Māori and Treaty settlements," he said in February.

Mr English is now considering taking Waitangi Day "on the road" if re-elected, an idea suggested to him by many after his decision earlier this year.

"It's not throwing away history, it's just making sure Waitangi Day is observed in a way New Zealanders are proud of," Mr English said.

ACT Party leader David Seymour in February voiced his support of the idea.

When asked if he would ever consider attending a Waitangi Day ceremony on Treaty grounds, Mr English said organisers would need "a bit more time to demonstrate they could run a Waitangi Day that represented New Zealanders and made New Zealanders proud".

Newshub.

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