Steven Joyce hit by sex toy during media conference

Steven Joyce hit by sex toy during media conference

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has had a sex toy thrown at him by a protester at Waitangi this afternoon.

The National minister was holding a media stand-up outside the Copthorne Hotel when Josie Butler, an anti-TPP protester, threw the phallic object, shouting "that's for raping our sovereignty".

She was then taken away by police, but later posted on Facebook saying: "im free! No charges laid woohoo! TPPA NO WAY (sic)".

Ms Butler told Newshub it was a "hilarious form of protest against the TPPA", but she didn't want to comment further.

Before the incident however, Mr Joyce had been talking about the Prime Minister's absence at the marae and whether it was appropriate.

He said it was "unrealistic" for Ngapuhi to expect Mr Key to appear and not be able to reply on matters of interest to people.

The sex toy attack was the most outlandish event to happen today at Te Tii Marae, in what was otherwise a fizzer.

February 5 is the day politicians of all stripes descend on Waitangi's lower marae and in previous years it's been the scene of fraught face-offs, scuffles and mud-slinging.

In fact, Labour leader Andrew Little told media today that situations much like the one Mr Joyce found himself in are part of New Zealand's history.

"It is not uncommon for politicians to have things thrown at them, Richard Prebble had an egg thrown at him in full public view, and other politicians have had vegetable matter, clogs of dirt thrown at them here at Waitangi."

But he did acknowledge it was bizarre item to throw.

"The connection between sensual devices and sovereignty is not immediately apparent to me, but I think we shouldn't underestimate the fact that people are very hot under the collar about the TPP."

Planned protests against the just-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal didn't eventuate, with only about 100 activists - many carrying flags and banners - welcomed on to the marae this morning.

Mr Key's decision not to go to Waitangi at all, amid concerns he'd be subject to a "gagging order" stopping him from speaking freely in the whare, is likely to have taken much of the heat out of what had the potential to be a hostile situation.

But he denies he's running scared.

"I've been very keen to go, I gave a commitment that I'd go every year," Mr Key told reporters.

In 2007, when he was Opposition leader, Mr Key promised he would go to Waitangi every year.

But because he hasn't been able to get assurances he'll have full speaking rights on the marae, as he has in previous years, the Prime Minister has made the call not to go this time.

A number of Government ministers are up at Waitangi, but none made the pilgrimage to Te Tii Marae. They are expected to be attending other events, including the iwi leaders forum and possibly the Waitangi Day dawn service at the upper marae.

Green Party co-leaders Metiria Turei and James Shaw, along with a contingent of their MPs, were welcomed on to Te Tii Marae without incident.

But the Labour Party, and Mr Little, were forced to wait in the rain at the gates for about an hour before their powhiri.

Newshub. / NZN