Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, along with other Government ministers - including Treaty Principles Bill architect David Seymour - have made their highly anticipated arrival at Waitangi on Monday morning.

They were welcomed with a pōwhiri on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds at about 11am.

The leaders heard criticisms from iwi towards some of their policies, like the plan to define the Treaty principles and disestablish the Maori Health Authority.

Over the past two days, speakers at Te Whare Rūnanga have encouraged unity in a fight against the Government's proposals. A large delegation from the Kīngitanga arrived at the grounds on Sunday, promising to oppose the Coalition's plans.

Ahead of the Government's arrival at Waitangi, prominent Māori activist Tāme Iti led a powerful hīkoi to the Treaty grounds.

The hundreds of participants carried white flags symbolising a blank canvas and chanted "honour Te Tiriti (the Treaty)" as they walked from Te Tii Marae to the meeting house on the upper Treaty grounds.

Newshub will bring you updates of all the key moments at Waitangi throughout the day.

4:00pm - Jones said he is ready and prepared to step up and take on a bigger role as a Minister.

"Are all of them still relevant? Do we even know what they mean?" he said, referring to the Treaty Principles Bill.

When asked what he thinks of Peters' behaviour today he said: "Respect goes two ways, and Winston has had a long history on fighting and delivering."

He believes Peters has been responding to the korero of Waitangi he has received since the Government was formed 10 days ago.

3:53pm - Jones said Winston and himself are both aware people have got "pent-up emotions". He said he has recognised that people are on edge.

He commented on the length of the haka. "I think the haka went on a little too long."

When asked if Peters' comments to the crowd were "reading the room", he laughed and said "Why would anyone be surprised about Winston's delivery, I am not."

3:50pm - Shane Jones addresses the media.

3:39pm - Seymour believes there is a thirst for a discussion inspired by the Treaty Principles Bill.

He says those who interrupted him during his speech were offensive to tikanga, but overall says it was a positive exchange of ideas.

3:38pm - "The dialogue is open and we are hear to listen," she says. She said the Government is here to help move New Zealand forward.

ACT MP Nicole McKee, who was heckled during her speech, is thankful for the opportunity to speak. She said it is "humbling" for herself and her daughters.

3:37pm - Seymour says all parties are currently committed to what is in the coalition deals, which includes taking the Treaty Principles Bill to First reading.

On Tipene’s apology that Seymour’s speech was interrupted, Seymour calls Tipene an honurable man. Seymour doesn’t want the rest of New Zealand to see those who interrupted him as representing all Māori.

Seymour believes some have engaged in a debate which is really just attacking people.

He says he delivered the message he intended to deliver. He says those drowning him out were a small minority.

3:30pm - ACT Party leader David Seymour addresses the media. 

3:25pm - "I came here expecting to be challenged and there to be a range of views," Luxon says. "I understand there is really big differences, but you have to be respectful." He says there were moments when there wasn’t full respect.

The Prime Minister says his takeaway was that iwi want to work together. He said there was a common purpose and everyone was united in wanting to advance New Zealand. It gives him confidence that everyone can focus on the big picture.

Luxon says his Government is different to the previous where everyone has to say the same thing.

The Prime Minister says all three party leaders were invited to give their own speeches and they did. He says it is up to them what remarks they make.

Luxon says there has been progress between the Crown and Māori today, but it's glacial.

3:15pm - The Prime Minister says there were a range of views expressed today. He thought in which other country could that happen in such a way.

Despite the call for the Prime Minister to kill the Treaty Principles Bill, the Prime Minister wouldn’t. He only repeated previous lines that National hadn’t given any commitment to support it after the First Reading.

Christopher Luxon says he was focused on explaining what the programme for the Government was over the next three years.

Luxon says he decided to use written notes as he wanted people to hear his thoughts clearly.

He said Winston Peters “apparently” had an engagement to get to. He said questions about whether his remarks were appropriate were ones for him.

The powhiri was “incredibly impressive”. We are a people with a range of views and we may not agree, but we all come together to express them.

3:14pm - Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is speaking with media. 

3:08pm - Speaking to media, Waitangi National Trust chair Pita Tipene said the powhiri went well despite some bumps. He wanted to hear more from the Prime Minister about the treaty and a more free-flowing discussion. However, he acknowledges this is a new Government and there could be some trepidations and things could improve next year. He would like to see the Prime Minister kill off the Treaty Principles Bill.

Tipene says it was unfair for the crowd to try and drown out Winston Peters and David Seymour. He said the organisers could have done more to stop that happening.

He says there has been progress between the Crown and Māori today, but is glacial. We are hearing we have problem so let’s get down and have some earnest discussions he says.

2:35pm - Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will be speaking to the media soon. We will livestream this in the video above.

2:01pm - Ben Dalton, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds chief executive, says in summary it appears we still have some way to go and we are not on the same page. But he thanks the Government for its contributions. He says while the speeches and actions were uncomfortable, it was done without any harm.

1:58pm - He also spoke about the need to improve education, healthcare and infrastructure while obliging with our climate pledges. 

1:55pm - The Prime Minister said his Government will relentlessly focus on improving the economy over the next three years because it "underscores the standard of living of every single one of us, every family and hapū, and every community and iwi in this country".  

1:53pm - Luxon says he believes New Zealand is the best country on earth.  

"We have unlimited potential, and everything we need to be successful - the best people, a country well positioned in the middle of the Asia Pacific region, and a liberal democracy with well-established social institutions.

"We are a multi-cultural nation built on strong bi-cultural foundations, with an acute sense of fairness and a willingness to lend a hand to those who need it.

 "There are simply no excuses for why we can’t do exceptionally well and be one of the world's leading, advanced small countries."

1:49pm - Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is now speaking from the porch.

Luxon says this is the most important place for Aotearoa New Zealand. He says there are two questions - where do we want to be by 2040 and what is there to be done over the next three years?

Our pasts are impacted by our environment as well as our whakapapa.

He said those who signed the Treaty likely had different understandings of what they were doing and we know it wasn't always upheld. Not every country's past is perfect, but no country has attempted to right historic wrongs like New Zealand has, Luxon says.

Christopher Luxon speaking at Waitangi.
Christopher Luxon speaking at Waitangi. Photo credit: Newshub

1:39pm - Ngāpuhi's Mere Mangu is speaking next. 

1:23pm - After being the topic of conversation for weeks ahead of Waitangi, ACT leader David Seymour is now speaking.

As he begins speaking, the crowd breaks out in a waiata.

They are told by a woman on the porch to show respect for Seymour and his korero.

A man then tells the crowd to let him speak but when Seymour begins to talk again, the crowd continues their waiata.

"We need to start talking about ideas and stop attacking people," Seymour said.

"Let’s have respect and let's have facts."

He said the Government has been called sandflies and spiders, but not even former US President Donald Trump is calling his opponents insects

"If you want to have a battle of ideas, then it helps to turn up for that battle," Seymour said referring to Te Pati Māori.

Seymour was talking about partnership for all when a protester has walked onto the atea. He is being asked to move back. A waiata again breaks out.

Seymour keeps talking as a number of the crowd sing "whakarongo e noho".

" You are not going to beat an idea with singing any more than you are going to beat an idea with a gun," Seymour said.

"These debates are about our identity."

He added there are people across the country watching the singing and asking "why do those people have a right to stop the rest of New Zealand debating their future?"

"News flash, you don't," Seymour said.

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

1:20pm - Lawyer Annette Sykes is now speaking.

She challenged why the Government was focusing on the Treaty during a time of climate change and disaster.

She said the "mindful kindness" of Queen Victoria is what Māori people expect of the Government.

Referring to the disestablishment of Three Waters, Skyes said "we will not let you deny our rights for our waters".

1:05pm - NZ First leader Winston Peters is now speaking. He says his speech will be brief as he has an appointment soon with Ambassadors to advance our economy and relations. That receives boos.

Peters says no one has said they are getting rid of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Stop the nonsense, stop the hysteria, Peters says.

Peters is receiving boos throughout this speech.

We will focus on safe, affordable housing, education, and a solid income for people, Peters says.

We will go on fighting for them, says Peters.

A chant of "e noho" (sit down) comes from the crowd as Peters returns to the Government benches. He then leaves and the crowd cheers.

Winston Peters speaks at Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
Winston Peters speaks at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo credit: Newshub.

12:59pm - A protest group is making its way onto the pae. They are holding signs that say Toitu Te Tiriti.

12:50pm - Former Māori Party candidate Hone Harawira is now speaking. He acknowledges the Kīngitanga and iwi who have honoured the gathering today from throughout the country.

He says he was here fifty years ago fighting for the Treaty and te reo "and you buggers want to get rid of it". He says the Government is trying to use legislation to make it a "second-class language" in "our land".

There are loud cheers in response to his comments

He tells David Seymour he is alone and he and his "shitty ass Bill is going down the toilet".

He criticises the agenda to open up land and Moana to the "mining rapists" from overseas.

"We will fight that," Harawira said.

Those companies who think they are going to get it, are not going to get their hands on our resources, he added.

"You might open the door, but we will shame it shut," Harawira said.

He then addressed Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

"Prime Minister I know you must be thinking to yourself I can either come out hard against NZ First and ACT… or I can stand back and watch everybody eat the shit out of it, congratulations for taking the second part Mr Prime Minister."

"But we are here, and we are united."

Hone Harawira.
Hone Harawira. Photo credit: Newshub.

12:43pm - As Pita Tipene, chair of the Waitangi Nation Trust, is speaking, Hone Harawira approaches to speak. He waits for Waitangi Treaty Grounds chief executive Ben Dalton to speak first.

12:36pm - A  group is performing a traditional haka. Ministers have stood to watch.

12:30pm - NZ First minister Shane Jones is now speaking. He pays respect to the various iwi.

Those in the Māori world should not assume the Māori in the Government don't have any mana, Jones said.

Shane Jones.
Shane Jones. Photo credit: Newshub.

12:19pm - ACT minister Nicole McKee is now speaking from the porch.She whakapapas to Ngāpuhi.

She said her party are striving to speak about the rights of the Treaty in this new world. 

She said her party do not want to trample on the Treaty, however, wants to bring everyone together as a part of it so they can share their views.

As McKee is speaking, a woman on the left of Te Whare Runanga, who appeared to be holding a banner, has been moved on. Another person in the crowd is yelling out.

As someone in the crowd yells out and others sing a waiata, McKee is being supported by her female Cabinet colleagues, including Casey Costello, Brooke Van Velden and Nicola Willis.

"Act party go home and do your homework," one woman yells out.

"You should be ashamed of yourself, the whole lot of you," a man yells out.

Nicole McKee surrounded by fellow MPs.
Nicole McKee surrounded by fellow MPs. Photo credit: Newshub.

12:07pm - Māori-Crown Relations Minister Tama Potaka has now begun speaking.

He acknowledges the iwi leaders and the unity of hapu.

Potaka referred to the Opposition parties on Saturday comparing the Government to a den of lions and a plague of spiders.  

"Is this the face of a lion, or of a spider?" He asks.

 "I am like a feather of a huia bird."

There are two matters for him to address, Potaka said. The first one is unity, which he calls the foundation of Te Tiriti.

Potaka said we have seen the unity of the leaders throughout the country in bringing forth Te Tiriti O Waitangi.

At this time, the Government has arrived to have discussions which will happen in time.

"We must not just leave those discussions on out courtyards… take them to iwi and to the homes throughout the country," he said.

Te Tiriti shouldn't just be debated on one day, Potaka added.

Secondly, he discusses 2040 - the 200th anniversary of the Te Tiriti.

"Māori are crying out for a debate and there is a knife in my back no matter where I go. However, I want to bring forward the knife of love."

Tama Potaka
Tama Potaka Photo credit: Newshub.

11:58am - Ngāpuhi elder Hone Pereki Sadler is now addressing the Government.

He said the discussion should be in a "language of care and of love".

We have heard the voice of the country and the desire to be together, he said.

"To my relatives Winston and Shane, and to also David, welcome, welcome home. Welcome home so that you can feel the cool breeze of home, so that we are able to help you and assist you with your work," Sadler said.

"We do not want us to be divided, we do not want that to happen." 

11:46am - Peeni Henare, a Labour MP who is also of Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi descent, is now speaking in front of Te Whare Runanga.

Henare asked the Government to honour the Māori world and Māori whakapapa, as well as the mana of Ngāpuhi.

"Governments come and they go, they rise and they fall, but the Māori world will continue to stand including Māori genealogy and heritage forever," he said.

He added the Government has come together to hear what the Māori world has to say, so we can have discussions and deliberate so we can emerge into a world of light.

Peeni Henare.
Peeni Henare. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:33am - Rahui Papa of Waikato Tainui is now speaking and welcomes the Government leaders.

"It is a great day to have a discussion… it is a great day for peace," he said.

Papa said at the iwi chairs forum, there was a discussion about schooling and attendance, but the conversation should been about systemic change to make going to school attractive.

He said our goal is to set the pathway to Tino Rangatiratanga and mana motuhake.

"We will leave the politicking to you fellas," Papa said.

Speaking to Luxon and Seymour, Papa said we know and have heard the kaupapa through the media and the iwi chairs forum and we acknowledge those are your views.

However, he said the same amount of time and resources should be put into honouring Te Tiriti.

At Ratana, Shane Jones said people should come to Waitangi for a discussion.

"Look, we have arrived," Papa said in response.

Rahui Papa.
Rahui Papa. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:23am - Broadcaster Julian Wilcox (Ngāpuhi, Te Arawa) is now addressing the ministers. He is listing the iwi that are in attendance today. He mentions the likes of Ngāpuhi as well as Rātana Church.

There are cheers from the crowds as each iwi is mentioned.

Wilcox welcomed the Prime Minister, Winston Peters and Shane Jones. He also welcomed "my relation" David Seymour and reminded him of the self-determination of the chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi, again to cheers from the crowds.

Seymour's proposed Treaty Principles Bill includes that "all New Zealanders" will have chieftainships of their lands, and doesn't specifically refer to rights for Māori.

Julian Wilcox.
Julian Wilcox. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:20am - The speeches are being watched by a significant crowd.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is standing next to Maori-Crown Affairs Minister Tama Potaka. Next to them are Winston Peters and Shane Jones, then David Seymour and Dr Shane Reti.

On the porch of the marae is ACT minister Nicole McKee, Brooke Van Velden as well as Finance Minister Nicola Willis.

11:11am - The Government ministers are now seated in front of Te Whare Runanga and Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu has begun kōrero.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is standing next to Maori-Crown Affairs Minister Tama Potaka. Next to them are Winston Peters and Shane Jones, then David Seymour and Dr Shane Reti.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is standing next to Maori-Crown Affairs Minister Tama Potaka. Next to them are Winston Peters and Shane Jones, then David Seymour and Dr Shane Reti. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:59am - A pōwhiri will now welcome the Government ministers onto Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Thousands have gathered on the Treaty Grounds for the pōwhiri. The delegation from the Crown is being led by the leaders of the Coalition Government.

Protesters standing to the side of the pōwhiri are chanting Toitu Te Tiriti, which refers to the need to uphold Te Tiriti.

Seymour, Luxon and Peters are welcomed.
Seymour, Luxon and Peters are welcomed. Photo credit: Newshub.
Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:55am - A large group that includes Waikato-Tainui’s Rahui Papa has just walked onto the grounds. There are approximately 250 people.

Papa, who last month warned the Government against "meddling" with Te Tiriti, arrived on Sunday with members of the Kīngitanga.

Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:43am - ACT leader David Seymour said his party has been criticised for its thinking on self-determination and that any rights New Zealanders have are for all.

"Some people say that there is a partnership between Crown and Māori, we believe that. We also think there's a partnership that applies to every New Zealander with the same rights and duties," Seymour told reporters as he arrived at the Treaty grounds.

He said the Treaty Principles Bill is designed to enhance the mana of the Treaty.

"As we go towards 2024, we need the Treaty to be well understood and for all New Zealanders to have a sense of ownership of it. That's what the Treaty Principles Bill will achieve."

Seymour said it is sad some of the rhetoric around the Bill has been about "violence and fighting".

"This is actually a kaupapa of uniting people around a common understanding of a Treaty that gives the same rights and duties to all, as I believe it was intended when it was signed here 184 years ago," he said.

David Seymour at Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
David Seymour at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:20am - Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, NZ First leader Winston Peters and ACT leader David Seymour have arrived at the Treaty grounds for a briefing. They have been accompanied by a large group of MPs.

"I'm looking forward to today. I think it will be a good day," Luxon said.

Luxon arrives at Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
Luxon arrives at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo credit: Newshub.

Peters arrived separately to Luxon.

When asked what his message will be today, Peters replied: "We are here for commemoration not for messaging."

Winston Peters at Waitangi.
Winston Peters at Waitangi. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:00am - A group holding signs has formed a line near the entrance to the upper Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

The signs say Toitū Te Tiriti (honour the Treaty) and have red and black paint splattered across it.

Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

9:36am - Preparations are underway at Te Whare Runanga ahead of the Crown's arrival at 11am.

Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

9:25am - Speaking to the media after the pōwhiri, Māori activist Tāme Iti said he was amazed by the response to his hīkoi and the number of people who responded to the call to come to Waitangi.

Hundreds of people joined his protest march, chanting "honour Te Tiriti (the Treaty)" as they walked from Te Tii Marae to the meeting house on the upper Treaty grounds.

Tāme Iti.
Tāme Iti. Photo credit: Newshub.

9:10am - Members of the hīkoi are taking a photo below the mast on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

"I think we did something there," a speaker said.

The group stood in the formation of a spear with Tāme Iti as the point.

"Thank you for being here. Thank you for being yourself," Iti said.

"We need to move forward, we need to be together, we need to find our own pathway."

Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

8:45am - Crown and Māori relations minister Tama Potaka and NZ First MP Shane Jones have been challenged about the coalition's te reo Māori policies at the Waitangi forum tent.

Newshub political reporter Amelia Wade reported that the ministers were challenged that while directives are meant for the public service, "they're landing on the ears of our tamariki".

Potaka responded that if anyone wanted to speak in te reo Māori with the public service, they could and the Prime Minister was supportive of that. He said the primary objective of the public service was to communicate effectively and as more people spoke reo their response would also be in reo.

His answer was met with a mutter from the crowd that "he didn't answer the question".

Jones responded that his generation had fought for the language and said, referring to immigration, that there were "a hundred thousand people" coming to the country "that have no interest in te reo Māori" because they wanted somewhere safe to live.

Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

Jones told the crowd at the forum tent that he got $100 million for marae through the Provincial Growth Fund "but none of you voted for me".

He urged the crowd not to underestimate how hard that money was to get.

The mood at the tent is relaxed with the crowd listening and sometimes quietly murmuring in agreement or disagreement with the speakers.

Ministers Shane Jones and Tama Potaka.
Ministers Shane Jones and Tama Potaka. Photo credit: Newshub.

8:30am - Tāme Iti's performance art protest has arrived at the upper Treaty grounds. The white flags symbolise a blank canvas, a new story, tangata whenua and Tangata Tiriti together united.

Waitangi live updates: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Government ministers arrive at Treaty grounds
Photo credit: Newshub.

8:15am - Newshub's political editor Jenna Lynch said there is a number of regular people from all over the country coming to Waitangi this week.

She said Māori want the Government to front up and tell them what their plan is if they are going to start disestablishing authorities and meddling around with the Treaty's principles.

"There is tension hanging in the air here. People are unhappy, they are uncomfortable, they are anxious, they are angry, they are sad about what the Coalition Government is planning to do with Māori."

Lynch said the Government is under no illusion of the reception they might receive at Waitangi, however, the complicating factor is two of the three leaders whakapapa to Ngāpuhi.

"The hosts, Ngāpuhi, have been told by a number of speakers over the past couple of days to not go easy on them because of their whakapapa, to tell them whats-what despite their connection to this place," Lynch said.

Jenna Lynch reports live from Waitangi.
Jenna Lynch reports live from Waitangi. Photo credit: AM

7:30am - Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is calling on the coalition to leave decisions on Māori Wards up to local councils.

It comes after the Government revealed plans in its coalition agreement to "restore local referendums on the establishment or ongoing use of Māori wards".

Currently, councils can make decisions about the establishment of Māori wards and constituencies for themselves. This followed a 2021 law change that repealed the need to hold a poll to establish Māori Wards.

Local Government New Zealand said in a statement changing the rules on Māori wards again is burdensome for councils. It also said for the proposed rules to only apply to the establishment of Māori wards and constituencies and not all wards showed a lack of fairness.

"Others such as rural wards do not need a referendum. We say the Government needs to either apply them to all wards and constituencies or none at all," LGNZ said in a statement. 

LGNZ president Sam Broughton appeared on AM this morning from Waitangi and said it is important to be "part of the national conversation and making sure that we listen, hear with our ears turned on to the current matters that are in front of our nation."

"[Also] thinking about how we locally embed the decisions that need to be made at a local level between mana whenua and councils."

He asked the Government to treat Māori wards fairly, adding councils don't need a referendum and are more than capable of making those decisions on their own.

7:15am - A hīkoi has arrived at Waitangi this morning, led by Tāme Iti.

It is coming over the bridge from the lower marae and will march up to the treaty grounds.

The group of at least 200 are chanting "Honour Te Tiriti".

The group of at least 200 are chanting "Honour Te Tiriti".
The group of at least 200 are chanting "Honour Te Tiriti". Photo credit: Newshub.

Newshub reporter and co-anchor Mike McRoberts told AM live from Waitangi the wairua/spirit of the protest was palpable.

"Just the presence of everyone dressed in white or black… It's a really strong message and we are seeing iwi Māori over the last month or so making a statement in their numbers."

Tāme Iti and Mike McRoberts.
Tāme Iti and Mike McRoberts. Photo credit: AM

The hīkoi, to the treaty grounds, is to remember the work of the protest group Ngā Tamatoa, which began fighting for Māori rights in the 1970s and presented the petition that led to te reo Māori being taught in New Zealand schools.

It's also in response to the proposed changes by the new Government such as disestablishing the Māori Health Authority and ACT's Treaty Principles Bill.

They want to change everything, it's not going to happen," Iti told McRoberts.

"We just want to come here to bring our taonga to remember all of those who have fall for these things… I don't really care what the Government's going to do, it's not my issue. We are just going to carry on and be who we are.

The hīkoi led by Tāme Iti.
The hīkoi led by Tāme Iti. Photo credit: AM