Shane Jones: Moving Waitangi welcomes away from Te Tii is long overdue

Waitangi Te Tii Marae
"In the garden of Māori politics, insects who don't get out of the way get squashed." Photo credit: Newshub file

OPINION: Pita Paraone's call to move the official Waitangi welcomes away from Te Tii Marae is overdue.

Earlier generations ran the Waitangi marae in a grand and hospitable manner, and the current generation has got a lot of learning to do. We need to give them space to do that learning.

But no more can we allow their learning to be at our expense.

Paraone pointed out that a successful Waitangi Day is the business of the entirety of Maoridom, and in particular the tribes of the north.

The local marae is important in terms of Waitangi history but when you look to the future, you need to bear in mind the Treaty was signed in Hokianga, Kaitaia and in Waitangi.

I think we can have a very successful pōwhiri (gathering) and a memorable day by moving the ceremony up to the Treaty grounds.

Anything that's an improvement on what we saw last year can only help.

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Waitangi Day, whilst it's a day of heritage, is also a day of the people. Families and garden variety Kiwis should feel it's worth associating with and worth celebrating.

The media also have to enjoy full access, and all the people of the north - Pakeha and Māori - have to feel that they can participate.

Our young people all want to be involved. They're being denied that by the shenanigans at Te Tii Marae.

But that game's over now.

Whether Bill English returns in 2018 depends how he performs on September 23. So I'd say let's not get ahead of ourselves.

But Waitangi has a political allure and I have no doubt that many politicians will continue to come back.

But no one, and in particular the Governor-General, should be subjected to the rudeness and the mayhem which was all too evident this year.

I think those who were the architects of the poor behaviour are a tiny minority.

And in the garden of Māori politics, insects who don't get out of the way get squashed.

Shane Jones is a former Labour Party MP who lives in Northland.

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