Simon Bridges told National is 'wrong' during Waitangi pōwhiri as Andrew Little praised for Te Reo speech

Simon Bridges has been told the National Party is "wrong" by a Ngāpuhi representative at Waitangi, while Andrew Little has been praised for delivering a speech in Te Reo. 

Bridges, leader of the National Party, was welcomed to the upper marae on the Waitangi Grounds in the Bay of Islands on Tuesday morning with a pōwhiri, along with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other New Zealand MPs. 

There were several speeches delivered to MPs by Māori from Ngāpuhi, the iwi which represents the Northland region of New Zealand, centred in the Hokianga, the Bay of Islands, and Whangarei. 

National leader Simon Bridges, Green Party co-leader James Shaw, NZ First leader Winston Peters and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern are welcomed onto the upper marae at Waitangi.
National leader Simon Bridges, Green Party co-leader James Shaw, NZ First leader Winston Peters and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern are welcomed onto the upper marae at Waitangi. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Te Waihoroi Shortland, of Ngati Hine, delivered a speech at the end of the pōwhiri, during which he told Simon Bridges: "Your party is wrong."

He said the National Party was once the party that Māori aligned with - particularly when it formed a Government with the Māori Party's support under John Key - but Shortland said he felt that National had lost Māori support. 

"You have some distance to cross the bridge," he told Bridges, referring to the Prime Minister's speech earlier when she said it's time to "step into the Māori world" because they have always been expected to integrate into the Pakeha one.  

In 2018 - her first visit to Waitangi as Prime Minister - Ardern asked to be held to account on Māori issues, and brought it up during her speech at the upper marae on Tuesday. 

"When I said hold us to account it wasn't just about what we do but how we do it."

Te Waihoroi Shortland, of Ngati Hine, delivered a speech at the end of the pōwhiri, during which he told Simon Bridges: "Your party is wrong."
Te Waihoroi Shortland, of Ngati Hine, delivered a speech at the end of the pōwhiri, during which he told Simon Bridges: "Your party is wrong." Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

She pointed to areas she felt have been a success for Māori under the current Government, including the announcement last year that New Zealand history is to be taught in all Kiwi schools from 2022, raising the minimum wage, and boosting paid parental leave

However, the Prime Minister repeatedly said there is "more mahi to be done", and acknowledged that there are issues for Māori around employment. She also acknowledged on Monday that a deal is still yet to be announced about Ihumātao. 

"We should never be afraid of scrutiny," Ardern said. 

Bridges began his speech by complementing the Waitangi Grounds, describing them as the "most beautiful place in the world". 

Bridges also said he's proud of National's record of Treaty settlements, and mocked the Prime Minister for once describing 2018 as her "year of delivery". 

He said the Prime Minister promised to reduce poverty and "failed to deliver", and then launched into an attack on the Government's infrastructure announcement, doubling down on claims that National's ideas had been pinched. 

"We have a plan for a better Northland economy," Bridges said. "We won't always agree... but we will deliver."

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little delivering his speech at the upper marae in Te Reo.
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little delivering his speech at the upper marae in Te Reo. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters had not intended to speak, but he chose to anyway, to call out Bridges for "politicising" the event. 

Peters, also New Zealand First leader, said politicians should be able to congregate at the "sacred place" without bringing partisan politics into it. 

Bridges announced on Sunday that he has ruled out working with New Zealand First after the general election - taking a leaf out of his predecessor John Key's book. 

Green Party co-leader James Shaw also criticised Bridges for "politicisation" of his speech, drawing a mixture of groans and cheers from the attendees. 

It was Labour MP and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little who was praised the most during the pōwhiri, for addressing members of Ngāpuhi in te reo Māori. 

Speaking in Maori, he said: "Māori have paid the price of citizenship. The contributions they made, and the sacrifices paid by Maori are woven throughout our history."

He talked about the importance of upholding the Treaty of Waitangi and how he remains "committed" to "forging a waka hourua between Ngāpuhi and the Crown". 

Te Waihoroi Shortland told Little: "You have shown the nation."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw during the wero or taki, when an important guest is welcomed to the marae.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw during the wero or taki, when an important guest is welcomed to the marae. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

The pōwhiri began with politicians stood about 100m away from the upper marae, with the Prime Minister holding the hand of Titewhai Harawira, who has traditionally welcomed New Zealand's leaders to the marae. 

A wero or taki was then performed where the visitors are welcomed to the marae. 

Isaiah Apiata, who has worked as a youth justice coordinator for New Zealand's Ministry of Children, talked about how Māori prison numbers are too high, and he also called for more funding of dentistry for Māori. 

The new chairwoman of the Ngāpuhi, Mere Mangu, also rose to speak to the parliamentary officials about poverty in Northland and how she wants to work with MPs to correct Māori issues.

You can read more about how our recent leaders have handled Waitangi Day here.

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