Hipkins will not have same speaking rights as Ardern at Waitangi

Sat, Feb 4

For the first time in years the Prime Minister won't be given special speaking rights on the marae at Waitangi tomorrow.

It's one of several changes the National Waitangi Trust, endorsed by local hapū, has made to the parliamentary pōwhiri day in an effort to take the politics out of the protocol.

Pōwhiri are traditional welcome ceremonies, steeped in tikanga, where speaking rights are usually only reserved for Māori orators.

But, at Te Whare Rūnanga, politicians in the past have been made an exception — often using this special privilege as an opportunity to woo voters.

However, the National Waitangi Trust have had enough of the event's politicisation and want people to focus on its true meaning.

"We feel its really important to focus on the promise of Waitangi because it's been somewhat neglected over previous years for the want of political viewpoints, said Pita Tipene, chairperson of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hine.

This year the Prime Minister won't get any special speaking rights and one member from each party can now join a panel — alongside five Māori leaders.

They'll have six minutes speaking time each to talk about the theme 'he iwi tahi tātou', meaning 'we are one people'.

Deputy Labour Leader Kelvin Davis was unconcerned about these changes.

"The biggest thing for me is that the dignity and mana of Ngāpuhi is intact," Davis said.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson echoed Davis' sentiment.

"As always with every pōwhiri, we'll take direction from the hau kāinga of the respective marae."