PM's historic speech: The distance between our houses, Māori and Pākehā

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used her historic speech at Waitangi's Te Whare Runanga to speak of the distance between Māori and Pākehā, and her hope for change.

Gesturing from the meeting house to James Busby's colonial cottage in which the Treaty was drafted, she said a kaumatua had spoken of the distance between the two houses, a symbol of the distance between Māori and Pākehā.

"The distance between here and there is unemployment, poverty that exists among whānau, those who don't have access to mental health services, incarceration of the Māori people disproportionate to everyone else," Ms Ardern said.

"That is the distance. I believe in our power to change."

"I hope my child will have the power to change and we must change," she said.

PM's historic speech: The distance between our houses, Māori and Pākehā
Photo credit: Newshub.
PM's historic speech: The distance between our houses, Māori and Pākehā
Photo credit: Newshub.
PM's historic speech: The distance between our houses, Māori and Pākehā
Photo credit: Newshub.

It was an historic speech for the Prime Minister - she is the first female Prime Minister to speak on the porch of te Whare rūnanga on the Treaty Grounds.

"I do not take lightly the privilege extended to me to speak from this verandah today. Not only as a Prime Minister but as a wahine," she acknowledged.

She said there is much mahi - work - to do, and said it must be done together.

"Our relationship goes beyond the negotiating table, and it will continue on with strength and with hope," she said.

This year, for the first time, the pōwhiri bypassed Te Tii Marae, after the lower marae temporarily lost hosting rights for attempting to charge media $10,000 to broadcast last year.

PM's historic speech: The distance between our houses, Māori and Pākehā
Photo credit: Newshub.
PM's historic speech: The distance between our houses, Māori and Pākehā
Photo credit: Newshub.

Fog cleared for the pōwhiri as the manuhiri - visitors - were welcomed onto the Treaty Grounds' Te Whare Runanga.

Ms Ardern was joined by a large group of Labour MPs, as well as leaders and MPs from NZ First and the Greens.

National's Steven Joyce joked that his experience of Waitangi has been "more unique than most."

Mr Joyce had a run-in with a protester who threw a dildo at him in 2016. He spoke on behalf of the Opposition, and was in attendance along with a number of other National Party MPs.

Mr Joyce said the promise of the Treaty won't be met until every young person has the opportunity to meet their potential and "until every single person who can't look after themselves can be looked after by the community."

Mr Joyce said settling with Ngāpuhi would be a big step, and would lead to greater prosperity in Te Tai Tokerau.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said The Greens recognise the Waitangi Tribunal's 2014 finding that sovereignty was not ceded by Māori when the Treaty was signed.

"We are committed as we enter Government…that we live up to that relationship," he said.

NZ First's Shane Jones, who lives locally, joked that Waitangi commemorations mean MPs must learn how to pronounce difficult words, like "paikākāriki", gesturing to the Greens as he said the green parrots are getting a bit too close. But one might argue, he said, "that green parrots lie at the heart of good governance", a nod to Winston Peters' favoured dining location, where he ate during the coalition negotiation period.

The theme of the day is manaakitangata - showing hospitality, generosity and care.

Newshub.

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