Te Tii Marae can stick it where the sun don’t shine

OPINION:  The leaders of Te Tii Marae are currently the laughing stock of the nation.

Their demands for broadcast media to pay up to $10,000 to cover Waitangi Day events on the lower marae are greedy, opportunistic - and downright laughable.

They have done themselves no favours with the public who are rightly fed up with their antics anyway.

This plays right into their hands and their strongly-held prejudice. It confirms what they think - that these guys are on the take.

Former MP Shane Jones is bang-on by describing their demand as a 'cultural shakedown'.

Waitangi Day should not be used by a small group to simply cash in. Any attempt to do so is a disgrace.

For years media, and I have been part of this, have turned up with a koha or donation. And that is entirely the right thing to do. 

It's also appropriate that if a large group staying at a marae and being hosted and fed for days pays a decent fee for that. I have been there and done that.

But this was nothing of the sort.  The media doesn't even stay or get fed on this marae.

We turn up, we cover events and we leave. Like we do all around the country and around the world.

I can't recall ever paying for access to shoot an event, commemoration or celebration like this. 

Not at Gallipoli, not in Passchendaele, not at Government House, not at Anzac Day, not at any RSA, not at Turangawaewae - not anywhere. 

This is extortion. Plain and simple. And it backs up Prime Minister Bill English's decision to give Te Tii a swerve this year.

The leadership of Te Tii seriously needs to sort their approach out. And fast. 

The way this is going the Crown will stay away from here for years to come. And it's hard to argue against, isn't it?

Perhaps it's genuinely time to move official Waitangi Day celebrations away for good.

And that's sad because Waitangi is such a special place - it's much bigger than a few money-grabbing opportunists with dollar signs in their eyes.

This is a farce and we're not fooled.

What were they thinking? 

I can answer that. They weren't.

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show on TV3, Radio LIVE and online from February 13.