Te Pāti Māori have broken with tradition today by joining the Kīngitanga as they were welcomed on to Rātana Pā.
Usually political parties are welcomed onto the pā as a single group. The event is a significant one in the te ao Māori and political calendars, often seen as the start of the political year.
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi told 1News the switch was about a “realignment” and “manifestation” of the party and Māori’s “political aspirations”.
Asked if it was about distancing the party from the Crown or Parliament, Waititi said it said “we’re with ourselves”, an expression of mana motuhake (self-determination).
“This is not about anybody else, this is about us.”
It follows a 10,000 strong turnout to the Kīngitanga’s te hui-ā-motu at Tūrangawaewae near Ngāruawāhia last week.
In his post-Cabinet press conference today, Luxon acknowledged the turnout as significant.
He said he had spoken with Kīngi Tuheitia and Māori Crown Relations Minister Tama Potaka — who attended on behalf of the Government — and understood the hui had been “positive and constructive”.
He said the Government would be “fixated” on better outcomes for Māori.
Kīngitanga representative Rahui Papa told 1News the coalition agreements had “hugely negative” elements.
“There’s the disestablishment of this, the repealing of this.”
He said he hoped Luxon would present a plan for what he hoped to achieve, particularly how he was going to achieve outcomes for all New Zealanders, Māori and non-Māori.
While Luxon, the deputy prime minister Winston Peters and opposition leader Chris Hipkins will travel to Rātana tomorrow, ACT leader David Seymour — who will in the second half of the term take over as deputy prime minister — will not.
Seymour said he wished “them all the best for their gathering” but there were thousands of events on in New Zealand “every weekend” and it was not one he had ever “seen the value in”.
He said it was “ultimately a religious gathering” that was politically significant almost a century ago.
However he added he would “never say never” and he had “no ill will”
“[I’ve] never quite seen the political relevance of it when you’ve got Waitangi the next week.”
Māori taniwha will ‘come out of its cave’
Of Seymour’s absence, Rātana Pā representative Te Taepa Kameta said while it may be blunt, Seymour was “not going to be missed” because he never came anyway.
Kameta said that was okay though, and Seymour would be welcomed if he changed his mind about attending.
“I’m not too sure what he’s up to tomorrow, but I hope he has a good day and we’ll see him up in Waitangi definitely.”
Regarding the 10,000 strong attendance at Tūrangawaewae last week, Kameta said “when you probe the taniwha enough, it’s going to come out of its cave”.
He said issues around te Tiriti o Waitangi and te reo Māori spoke directly to Māori identity, and the turnout to the hui showed the “importance of the kaupap that is coming up”.
Waititi said in his opinion it was hypocritical of Seymour not to attend when he said he wanted a debate on issues such as the Treaty.
Waititi said Seymour was denying himself the opportunity of that conversation.