Te Tii Marae will no longer host Waitangi welcomes

Increasing controversies played out at Te Tii Marae during Waitangi celebrations are set to come to an end. 

A meeting will be held at Te Tii Marae this morning where trustees will be informed they will no longer host official welcome ceremonies for dignitaries and Members of Parliament. 

Chairman of the Waitangi National Trust, Pita Paraone, says those ceremonies will instead be held at Te Whare Rūnanga, the upper marae at the Treaty grounds.

"I think there will be some resistance… so I just wanted to have the opportunity of speaking to them face to face," he said.

Tensions at Te Tii Marae came to a head earlier this year when Prime Minister Bill English refused to attend celebrations after protocol conflicts with marae organisers.

Media were also denied access onto the marae having refused to pay a fee of between $1200 and $10,000.

Mr Paraone says although he received repeated requests in recent years to move the celebrations up to the Treaty grounds, the latest problems were the last straw.

"I've been reluctant to act on that request, but I think this year has brought it to the conclusion that we perhaps need to move the powhiri away from Te Tii Marae and allow them to just settle down and reflect on the consequences of what they chose to do this year."

Mr Paraone says he has been "disappointed" at the antics at Te Tii Marae, given the strong history it has played in previous years as host to Waitangi celebrations. 

He recalled the likes of Sir James Henare, Niki Conrad and Simon Snowden, who once held the responsibility of welcoming people to Waitangi commemorations.

"People had respect for both our visitors and our taumata (elders) ," Mr Paraone said. "Unfortunately that's been lost over recent years and people have tended to forget what is the real intention of welcoming visitors. They seem to have forgotten that concept."

Mr Paraone believes moving the ceremonies away from Te Tii Marae is the appropriate decision for the time being. 

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says  "It doesn't solve the problem, because in the end that problem should have been solved at that marae and with the wise and responsible heads taking control. It's been building for a long long time, and I don't think this solves it but we'll have to wait and see".

"When are we going to grow up and realise that for that day we put things aside in the national interest, rather than turning it into the one day in the year that we do the very reverse."