Winston Peters defends media over Waitangi Ban

Winston Peters has spoken out against the ban on media from Waitangi's Te Tii Marae and is refusing to go onto the marae until the ban is lifted.

Speaking to media outside the marae on Sunday morning, Mr Peters said that those enforcing the ban have not an "ounce of respect for the traditions and culture" of Waitangi.

On Thursday the marae said it would charge media outlets $10,000 to attend.

No outlets paid, and tarpaulins were put up around the marae's perimeter to block cameras from filming proceedings.

Te Tii officials shepherded Mr Peters onto the road outside the marae, not allowing him to even stand on the grass outside the entrance.

Mr Peters and an official got into a stoush, with Mr Peters saying, "I will not stand here and be insulted."

Mr Peters told media that the new rules and regulations were an "abomination to Maoridom and to the significance of this event"

"You know it's bad when I'm defending the media!" Mr Peters said wryly as he walked away.

Mr Peters said he was calling out the disrespectful treatment both as an MP and Ngapuhi. He said events were "totally out of hand" and "an abomination to Maoridom".

"The ban of the media is so counter-productive. And worse than that it's an abuse of their hospitality rights conferred on them by the Ngapuhi people, in whose name they are making the decision without ever consulting with us," he said.

Labour has also condemned the decision to bar media. Leader Andrew Little said it could stop him attending in future.

"It would be wrong to be seen to be supporting and encouraging that, and I cannot guarantee that I will be at Te Tii again if there are further media blackouts."

Mr Little said the real celebration happens on February 6 - Waitangi Day itself - and he will always attend the dawn service, no matter what: "That's where I get the spiritual fulfilment."

Prime Minister Bill English has also boycotted this year's event because of a dispute over his speaking rights.

Mr English was told he could not speak at the powhiri, only at the political forum afterwards.

He will instead attend Waitangi celebrations in Auckland on Monday.

Newshub. / NZN

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