Politics | Waitangi

Thousands gather to protest at Waitangi

Flags are on display during the largest hīkoi in recent years

The largest protest at Waitangi in modern history was welcomed onto the marae ātea (courtyard) of Te Whare Rūnanga at Waitangi today.

Thousands of people gathered at Waitangi, waving flags signifying their disapproval of the current government and its policies against the use of Te Reo Māori in the public sectors and co-governance.

The protest hīkoi began on February 2, starting at Te Rerenga Wairua and ending at the Treaty Grounds.

Waitangi National Trust chair Pita Tipene was among the thousands marching to the upper Treaty grounds.

This doesn’t just affect Māori

Tipene says this is a united effort and Māori are not alone in their beliefs.

“A lot of people in this country think it’s Māori people who are unsettled about it, it’s not. So it sends a clear message.”

Far North community advocate Jay Hepi was a part of the hīkoi, and he says this event is the biggest he’s seen.

“This Waitangi Day is more significant than previous one, because of the government that we have, and because of the legislation it wants to bring in to diminish our reo, to diminish our tikanga as Māori. So it’s a united effort by all.”

During his address Prime Minister Christopher Luxon stated his wishes for the future of Māori and Crown relations, also pointing to the bicentennial celebration of the Treaty of Waitangi in 2040.

Hepi doesn’t believe this government will serve another term.

“The way its going, it hasn’t even been six months and already protests have surged throughout Aotearoa. It’s just going to continue to grow because nobody is listening,”

The government addresses yesterday also saw scenes of booing and singing drowning out NZ First leader Winston Peters and ACT leader David Seymour.

However, Green Party MP Te Anau Tuiono believes the government was let off easy.

“They got off easy. I thought the government got off easy. Our people are so nice, our people are so patient. They showed the spirit of manaakitanga,” Tuiono says.