Waitangi Day disagreements should be embraced, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is spending five days at Waitangi this year, and will break with tradition by being the first female Prime Minister to speak at the whare rānanga on the porch of the upper marae.

This comes after Te Tii Marae temporarily lost its hosting rights for commemorations after years of controversy.

The Prime Minister says disagreement and diversity of opinion are part of Waitangi Day and should be embraced.

 "For all this assumption that if there is any sign of protest or discord or if we speak frankly to one another that that somehow proves that Waitangi Day has failed, I completely disagree with that.

"As a nation we embrace the fact we speak frankly to one another, we're open, we cherish of freedom of speech and our diversity, why should that be suspended for one day of the year?

"I see that as part of our celebrations and something we should embrace and feel proud of. That's who we are and that's who we've always been."

The Prime Minister said she does not believe the country needs a separate New Zealand Day.

Ms Ardern has spent the past three days making the best use of her time in the north.

"It's been fantastic. Ministers have been meeting with people in education and health. I've met with mayors, regional council, Māori wardens, Māori women's welfare league; I'm popping to some schools today.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity to talk to a range of people in the north who we know we need to talk to in the future."

The Prime Minister says she hopes to work together with those in the north to form a strong partnership.

"I don't want to take a paternalistic view. When you come to the north, the north knows what needs to be done and they've been asking for some time.

"It's about sitting down and saying practically, what does that partnership look like? It's also such a historic place and a chance to commemorate what happened here and what needs to happen."


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