Waitangi dawn service 'very moving' - Hipkins

Mon, Feb 6

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says attending the Waitangi Day dawn service this morning was "a wonderful experience".

Speaking to Breakfast this morning, Hipkins called it "a real opportunity for reflection".

"The vibe on the ground is often quite different from the impression you might get if you're not actually here, and I've always found it to be a really positive experience," he said.

"Even though every now and then there's a bit of argy bargy or a bit of debate, actually, it's a pretty nice way to commemorate and to celebrate what was a pretty big call 183 years ago."

Hipkins added that his job as prime minister is "not just to speak to Māori or to speak to Pākehā, it's to speak for all New Zealanders".

"That is something that I do feel the weight of, that responsibility.

"I hope that in my time in this job, I can bring people together particularly on issues which are difficult, like some of the debates around the Treaty and what it means into the future," he said.

"I hope that I can play a role in helping people to achieve some shared understanding of that."

Speaking to media after the service, Hipkins added: "I think there's been a trend in the last...five years or so, for a bit less politics on Waitangi Day and a bit more reflection and a bit more commemoration and a little bit more celebration and I really welcome that."

Chris Hipkins speaking to media on Waitangi Day after the dawn service.

"I really want to see Waitangi Day being a day of New Zealanders celebrating and commemorating and coming together, and that's the overall approach that I've brought to this.

"The service this morning I think was very moving, it was a wonderful thing to be part of.

"Sometimes there is conflict, there is debate, that's a healthy thing, but I don't think it defines what happens here [at Waitangi]."