Politicians have made their way onto Te Tii Marae in Waitangi – the first time in four years – in a bid to rebuild a fractured relationship between politics and the marae over years.
Events have started in Waitangi as part of the week’s commemorations.
In 2018, the pōhiri was moved from Te Tii marae to the upper grounds as supported by leaders in the north – but the question always remained as to whether the formalities would return to what is known as the lower marae.
Labour MPs and the whānau of Rudy Taylor – holding a picture of the staunch supporter and life member of Labour and Ngāpuhi leader, who died late last year – were welcomed onto the lower marae today.
Taylor was an advocate to return to the lower marae and Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson said he was a driver for them coming back to Te Tii this year.
Jackson said that it was where the “real people” came, while also saying he supported the formalities moving to the upper Treaty Grounds at Te Whare Rūnanga.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said he expected to be challenged on the paepae around questions of whether the prime minister should be in attendance, and the progression of the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement.
Some members of the marae believed she should be there.
Renowned Ngāpuhi kuia, Titewhai Harawira, was at the front of the ope – and said there was more discussion needed as to whether formalities for political parties and their leaders should return to Te Tii marae.
Politicians were met by a small group of protesters who are currently occupying private land at Opua – known as Puketiti – to stop a housing development. They stood to the left of the marae entrance standing with placards and flags as they made their way onto the marae.