John Key reconsiders Waitangi return

John Key reconsiders Waitangi return

The Prime Minister may not return to Waitangi after this year's snub due to a fallout with the elders of Te Tii Marae.

John Key said local iwi Ngāpuhi has been meeting to discuss whether to move the official welcome from the Lower Marae, which frequently draws protesters, to the more peaceful Upper Marae.

And he hasn't decided if he's ever heading back.

"They've asked us I think for an indication at some point whether we intend to return to Waitangi, we haven't made that call yet," he says.

There were renewed calls to move the welcome after this year's debacle which saw days of to-ing and fro-ing between the Prime Minister's office and a divided Ngāpuhi leadership as to whether Mr Key was allowed to attend.

He eventually boycotted the event because Ngāpuhi effectively muzzled him; he was invited to attend but not speak on the marae.

Other members of government still attended the celebrations at the Upper Marae this year - flanked by increased security after a sex toy was hurled at Economic Development minister Steven Joyce at Waitangi a couple of days earlier.

But the fallout from infighting among Ngāpuhi led for calls to move the official welcome away from the control of those at Te Tii Marae.

"We're aware that they're looking at the issue themselves, I think Ngāpuhi are holding some sort of meeting up there," the Prime Minister said.