Waitangi: time for John Key to call it a day
"Waitangi Day has been turned into a day where Maori try to shame European New Zealanders. It is devisive and should be replaced with New Zealand Day to bring the country together."Featured comment
The question has been asked 1000 times before.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to front up to the annual Waitangi Day circus and expose themself to physical and verbal abuse?
Yet every year our leaders and their entourages make the pilgrimage to Waitangi marae knowing full well they are going to be pilloried by radicals and loonies.
You might think Prime Minister John Key would have learnt his lesson by now.
Last year he was shouted down and had to cut his speech short while in 2009 he was assaulted by Hone Harawira’s nephews, the Popata brothers.
This year he was caught up in a fracas between Titewhai Harawira and the trustees of the marae who did not want her to be his escort, preferring Ani Taurua instead.
As Mrs Harawira, ever the old warhorse, and others argued at the gate to the marae, Mr Key was this morning kept waiting for about half an hour.
The dispute was finally settled when Mrs Harawira agreed to escort him along with Ms Taurua, but even then both women jostled for prime position as they led him on to the marae.
At least Labour prime minister Helen Clark, to her credit, bucked the trend and avoided returning for some time after some unpleasantness reduced her to tears.
Perhaps the prime minister should have listened to former governor general Dame Cath Tizard, who was spat at twice at Waitangi in 1995.
The first blob came from Tame Iti and landed at her feet. The second from Hinewhare Harawira caught her full in the face.
“Who the hell wants to go through with that every year,” she later said. “Why put yourself in a position where you know you’re going to be done over?”
It’s a question that seems to be lost on Mr Key, who is obviously a glutton for punishment.
Clearly, he has not heeded the advice of the late broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes – whose funeral is in Auckland this Friday – who advised him not to go there again.
“It’s a bullsh*t day, Waitangi. It’s a day of lies. It is loony Maori fringe self-denial day.
“John Key should not go there again. It’s over. Forget it.”