Politics | Waitangi

Winston Peters lost his temper, David Seymour was sung to silence; Chris Luxon was heard out

The three coalition parties of the government attempted to address the nation from Waitangi today, with regular interruptions from the crowd of protestors, young and old plus iwi and church leaders.

NZ First leader Winston Peters was the first to stand, saying he had to be quick as he had to depart as he had commitments with overseas ambassadors.

NZ First’s address

However his brief and angry address was interrupted by his audience, many of whom made it clear they believed he was a part of a government fixed on abandoning the Treaty of Waitangi.

He yelled in response: “Whoever said we’re getting rid of the Treaty of Waitangi, tell me. No we aren’t.

“We stand for a country. As Whina Cooper said, we signed the Treaty to become one people,” Peters angrily retorted.

Act’s leader David Seymour followed and was literally sung to silence by the overwhelming voices of Toitū Te Tiriti protesters sitting in front of Te Whare Rūnanga in Waitangi.

Many speakers blamed Seymour for creating a Treaty principles bill, aimed at clearly laying out the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi but which opponents say will change the actual Treaty.

Act’s view truncated

Seymour said he should be free to express his views just like everyone else.

“We need to start talking about ideas, and stop attacking people.

“If you want to attack ideas, that’s great, but I can say to Peeni Henare, Māori should know better than anyone, you can not kill ideas with a gun. If you want to have a battle of ideas, then it helps to come armed,” he says.

Prime Minister Chris Luxon was treated more patiently by the crowd and said he stood in hopes of unifying Aotearoa.

Luxon began his address facing the biggest issue of the day - the Treaty and the potential first reading of the Bill proposed by Seymour.

National’s plan

Luxon said his interpretation of the Treaty was to stand unified as one country.

“We must aspire to go forward, not as two sides but together as New Zealanders, because there is more that unites us than divides us.

“In part of the history of modern New Zealand is our struggle to understand the intention and the expectations of those who signed the Treaty and how we should act as a result. That work is still happening, and that work will keep going,” Luxon says.

Meanwhile, the original protest group, Ngā Tamatoa, was warmly welcomed 52 years after it began its protests to protect te reo Māori and defend te tiriti.

Veteran activist Hone Harawira showed he had not lost his passion despite his white hair, delivering a fiery speech denouncing the government to roars of approval from the crowd.

More Waitangi coverage will be broadcast on Te Ao Māori News on Facebook tomorrow from 8.30am.