National | Andrew Little

Winston Peters threatened with arrest

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters arrived to Waitangi today with the aim of entering Te Tii Marae, but instead he was threatened with arrest after refusing to move from the road entrance to the marae.

It wasn't just the media being made to keep clear of the entrance to Te Tii Marae. Instead it was Mr Peters who was seen walking off.

It's not common to see Winston defending the media.

Winston Peters says, “It’s not because we are the greatest defenders of the New Zealand media but the fact of the matter is this is not just about this marae. It’s about Ngāpuhi and it’s about the whole country. And the ban of the media is so counterproductive and worse than that it’s an abuse of their hospitality rights conferred on them by the Ngāpuhi people."

While Winston was sent off others were taking advantage of the media ban.

Hone Harawira says, “Well I must say that I'm really appreciating getting all the attention right now which I probably wouldn't get if you were all in there interviewing everybody else.”

Views varied amongst the politicians with regard to the media being charged a significant fee to film and report on the marae.

Gareth Morgan of the Opportunities Party says, "This is a marae.  It's the people of the marae who decide how they're gonna run this thing.  It’s their gig and as we all know it ebbs and flows a bit here.  But it's jut reflecting the reality of the tensions around the whole Treaty still.  We're not quite there yet.”

Andrew Little says, “It was a surprise to everybody, I think, to learn yesterday that they were trying to block media out and wanting to impose charges and that sort of thing.  I'd already accepted an invitation to attend and didn't feel as if I could pull out of that but there is a very important principle which is about public access.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett was expected to front on Te Tii Marae instead she bailed.

Harawira says, “I don't think it's a good look for the marae and I think there’s a number of issues that need to be resolved internally.  I don't want to bag the marae but yeah we gotta get together- sons of Ngāpuhi have to get together- and start doing something about it very quickly.  It can’t happen again.”