A win for wāhine at Waitangi as Ngāpuhi challenged to let Judith Collins speak at marae

It was a win for wāhine at Waitangi after National's deputy leader Shane Reti challenged Ngāpuhi to allow women to speak at the upper marae. 

The rare glimpse of political unity at Waitangi on Thursday - where the country came together 181 years ago – came as our political leaders gave peace a chance. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was given speaking rights at Te Whare Rūnanga, Waitangi's upper marae, but National leader Judith Collins was not, but next year that will change. 

"I want to acknowledge all the speakers on the pae today," Ardern said in her speech. 

Ardern used the spotlight to score brownie points, dishing out the date of our new Matariki public holiday, which will fall on June 24 next year. 

Matariki, the Māori New Year - is our first Māori-specific public holiday. The date will change each year, determined by the lunar calendar. 

"It will, as many people have pointed out, break up the year at a time when it can feel a little long," Ardern told reporters at Waitangi. 

It's also a classic vote winner announced on the election campaign. 

"The real issues for Māori are imprisonment, housing, unemployment, incomes and education," said ACT leader David Seymour. "Having an extra day off doesn't help when your unemployment's going up."

Collins didn't have the chance to talk up National on the paepae. She had to cede to her male deputy, who used his speech to have a crack, saying National was disappointed Collins couldn't speak because she's a woman. 

It worked - both Collins and Greens co-leader Marama Davidson can take the mic next year. 

"I think the speeches would have been a whole lot more engaging if those three were given the opportunity," said Te Waihoroi Shortland, of Ngati Hine. 

In 1998, former Prime Minister Helen Clark was reduced to tears when she wasn't allowed to speak in the wharenui at Waitangi's lower Te Tii marae. 

"I think this is a great result for all women," said Collins. 

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy was also welcomed to the marae on Thursday and was given a speaking slot. She had nothing but praise for the new Matariki holiday. 

"Matariki, I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "I think it's fantastic - that's one of those developments that shows how far we've come."

There's still a long way to go between the Crown and Māori - and still much more to come at Waitangi.

 Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

It's great news there will be a holiday that specifically celebrates Māori culture.

But speakers on the paepae challenged the Government about Māori overrepresentation in all the wrong statistics - health, suicide, and housing among them.

Ardern said if we're honest with ourselves we will never reach a point of perfection there will always be challenges - but that she's not resigned to fail, she'll never give up.

It sounds great, but this term - with her emphatic mandate - Ardern's Government needs to deliver far more than well-meaning platitudes.