Bill English 'unlikely to go back to Waitangi' for celebrations if elected PM




Bill English is unlikely to return to Waitangi next year for celebrations if he's prime minister after September 23.

The National Party leader said people at Waitangi are having talks about how to run celebrations that represent "the pride that New Zealand should have."
Source: 1 NEWS

The National leader was asked by a voter on the campaign trail today about his intentions and Mr English said there's support for alternative celebrations.

Events in the lead-up to Waitangi Day have marred celebrations over the last few years.

Mr English refused to attend this year after conflicts over protocols with Te Tii Marae organisers, while NZ First leader Winston Peters also boycotted events on February 5 after media were refused entry onto the marae unless they paid a fee of up to $10,000.

In 2016, then prime minister John Key boycotted the event after being refused speaking rights.

Mr English said a decision on whether to return to Waitangi next year would be made if he was re-elected.

"But as I indicated last year when I became prime minister, it was my view that Waitangi Day did not represent well the history of partnership between Maori and Pakeha in New Zealand," he said.

"We'd be unlikely to go back to Waitangi."

Mr English spent last year travelling between a number events in Auckland, something he said New Zealanders had supported.

"There is, in response to last year's decision, a lot of demand to take Waitangi Day on the road so that's certainly an option we'd consider," Mr English said.

Waitangi Day organisers earlier this year revealed Te Tii Marae would not host official welcome ceremonies for dignitaries and MPs from next year because of the controversy.

From next year the ceremonies are expected to be held at Te Whare Runanga, the upper marae on the Waitangi grounds.

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