Key will respect Waitangi visit decision

Key will respect Waitangi visit decision

The Prime Minister says he'll respect the decision of Ngapuhi leaders if they stop him from going on to Te Tii Marae on Waitangi Day.

Iwi leaders will meet next week to make a choice on whether the Government will be blocked from entering the lower marae, with kaumatua Kingi Taurua threatening to stop them if it signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

However, opinion is divided.

"The idea is we need to talk to the tribe, bring the tribe together, and see if we can come to some common agreement," he says. "There are some who think the Prime Minister should come on and there are some who say no. The whole idea of the hui is I want to get a consensus," he told RadioLIVE

At his post-Cabinet new conference today, John Key said he'd respect the ruling either way.

"I'm intending to go unless they don't want me to go. In the end, I'm not going to gatecrash the lower marae, but every year there's always been a call for me not to be able to go or some sort of protest  whether it was the mixed ownership model, whether it was mining, there have been a series of different issues which Kingi and others have had a view.

"But I turn up to Waitangi because I made that commitment when I was the leader of the Opposition that I would go there and engage in debate."

Mr Key said he'd welcome the opportunity to debate the TPP, saying the Government would be able to "allay a great number of fears".

Mr Taurua says he won't be changing his mind, despite opposition from some iwi leaders.

"I will be there and I will be on the other side if they want the Prime Minister to come on," he says. "There's a possibility that I will be with the protest group who will try and stop them from coming on. I am not going to change my stance.

"What do they want to talk to the Prime Minister for? And that's the message I'm trying to get across to the rest of the tribe, because the horse has already bolted and I don't see any reason why we should talk, there's nothing to talk about."

Next Tuesday's hui will be followed by a meeting of all iwi to discuss the TPP at Te Tii Marae on February 4.

Mr Key wouldn't discuss plans for security on Waitangi Day, but said protests would be inevitable like they are every year.

" Every single year I've been there there've been protests from people shouting me down, yelling and screaming, jostling, throwing things at me  it's just going to be another day at Waitangi and the lower marae.

"The topic will change, the animosity from a certain group of protesters will not."

3 News / RadioLIVE