Politicians have been welcomed onto Te Whare Runanga on the treaty grounds at Waitangi today, with leaders of political parties making statements.
Hirini Tau, opening for haukainga, welcomed the MPs to Te Whare Rūnanga, to recognise the signing of “our child” called Te Tiriti o Waitangi at the sacred place of Ngāpuhi.
He spoke of how the treaty affirmed He Whakaputanga, and about how the shared waka between tangata whenua and the Crown had been unbalanced since 1840.
Tributes were also paid to the late Northland kuia Titiewhai Harawira and to Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away last year.
Te Pati Māori leader Rawiri Waititi
Rawiri Waititi told Ngāpuhi to stay strong “in their struggle against this house”, and spoke on climate change after recent devastating flooding throughout the motu.
“We cannot change the climate; we are not gods, but we must change our behaviours and our actions.”
Labour Party leader Prime Minister Chris Hipkins
Prime Minister Hipkins also acknowledged the passing of Titewhai Harawira, and how each year at Waitangi Labour came “knowing full well that if we’ve not met her expectations that she was going to tell us and so we miss her here this year”.
As the former Minister of Education, Hipkins said he was “particularly proud to reflect on one of my most proud achievements in that role, ensuring that Aotearoa New Zealand history will be taught in all of our schools to all of our young people”.
“This is a day of coming together and yes, it’ll be a day of difference and sometimes some of that difference becomes a little more visual than other other times.”
He said that on the treaty process, “Much of the contemporary debates, unfortunately, is still characterised by a degree of uncertainty and fear.”
“With honesty and with understanding we can overcome this and we can see this process through.”
Hipkins also spoke on the inequalities in the health system and criminal justice system for Māori.
“The future prosperity of Māori will result in the future prosperity of all of us.”
“We acknowledge that we won’t always get that right. And that sometimes we’ll need to continue to discuss in debate, and sometimes things will need to change.”
ACT Party leader David Seymour
David Seymour spoke in te reo to the assembly, saying “We must cherish Māori language and culture.”
“Our party believes if we look forward all people must live equally. We believe in self determination for all people under the powers of the governments.
“Perhaps those who signed the Treaty would support our party.
“We believe in self-determination for all under the powers of the government.”
National Party leader Christopher Luxon
Christopher Luxon also began his talk in te reo acknowledging mana whenua and said: “It is a great privilege to be here … The birthplace of our nation.”
The treaty settlement process something New Zealanders can be proud of, he said.
“Most New Zealanders can see that settlements have been a genuine best endeavour to put things right.”
The process “settles claims forever” and “brings and end to grievance”, he said.
National would work “faithfully” with Ngāpuhi for iwi to settle claims, Luxon said.
Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono also spoke in te reo Māori.
After a flurry of confusion, it was agreed leaders would speak during the pōwhiri.
Watch a stream of the pōwhiri here:
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz