Waitangi success down to us - National Party

  • 06/02/2018

Senior National figures are dismissing suggestions peaceful events at Waitangi are the sole result of the feel-good effect of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labour-led Government.

They want to take some of the credit for this year's Bay of Islands celebrations, which have been without the acrimony and protest that marked previous events.

Senior MP Steven Joyce, who had a sex toy thrown at him in 2016, says that can be put down to moving the politicians' welcome to the upper marae at Waitangi, and National taking celebrations around the country.

The Ngāpuhi iwi had decided they wanted a more positive celebration, he told 1News.

"I think probably a little bit much to sheet it home to her [Ms Ardern]. It's really been the shift of Ngāpuhi and the decision to bring it up to the main Treaty grounds."

National leader Bill English, who last year refused to attend Waitangi as Prime Minister in a dispute over speaking rights, credited the decision to go elsewhere in the country for a better atmosphere.

"I think the decision worked. What had been going on there was not about dissent, it was just about disorganisation and disrespect," he told RNZ from Bluff, where he is attending Ngāi Tahu celebrations.

The Waitangi National Trust had taken more responsibility and control of the event and there was a lot of support for the new Government in the region, Mr English said.

Mr English complained the Labour-led Government was getting rid of some of his previous Government's projects, such as a four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangārei, national education standards and a "strong focus public service on violence and crime".

"I don't think we should be misled by the idea that a much better Waitangi means that the issues of the North are dealt with."