John Key on Waitangi Day: 'I won't go when elders are encouraging violence'

John Key will not be attending Waitangi Day celebrations this year, saying "I won’t go with a gagging order on me".

NZ Prime Minister John Key explains why he will not join in the Waitangi celebrations at Te Tii Marae on Saturday. Source: 1 NEWS

"The Prime Minister’s Office has had no response to its letter sent to trustees at Te Tii Marae earlier today. Accordingly, the Prime Minister has decided he will not be attending celebrations in Waitangi this year," a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said.

Speaking to media about the issue this afternoon he said: "They’re not giving the Government any opportunity to explain our position."

"I made the call that I’m not going ... I’ll take advice from my office about where to go and celebrate Waitangi.

"I’m certainly not scared, I’ve been very keen to go. I won’t go with a gagging order on me, especially when elders are encouraging acts of violence.

I'd be in this ridiculous position of being the prime minister of New Zealand looking in - John Key

"As Kingi [Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua] says, he will incite a riot. He has actively said he will encourage a riot, so I must stay away."

He added: "I’d be in this ridiculous position of being the prime minister of New Zealand looking in."

Mr Key sent a letter to Te Tii marae trustees asking for clarification on a condition of the visit.

It follows a letter from the trustees telling him he won't be able to speak about politics on the marae.

Protesters were dragged off an Auckland off-ramp as they upped their action. Source: 1 NEWS

The condition comes amid the signing today of the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Mr Key said he was told he can only talk politics in a nearby tent and not on the lower marae.

He said he couldn't agree to that condition.

He said he was given an assurance yesterday that he would have full speaking rights inside the marae.

The situation was a "mickey-mouse" one and very frustrating, Mr Key said.

Nga Puhi elder accuses some members of National of undermining elders of Te Tii Marae. Source: 1 NEWS

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua later said he will "encourage protests" if Mr Key did visit after members of the marae did a "turncoat" and invited the prime minister.

"I'm concerned, I am hurt about all what's happening here, and I will stand by my comment than John Key don't you ever come on this marae," Mr Taurua said.

"I'm going to encourage protests to happen, I'm going to encourage it I'm not allowing John Key to come on this marae and tell us lies, he's going to ... he's already signed the TPPA, what is there to discuss anymore? The horse has bolted so I don't want to ask him any other questions."

Meanwhile, Mr Key labelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a win for New Zealand and the entire Asia Pacific region.

Mr Key was talking after the free-trade agreement was signed in Auckland by ministers from 12 nations.

"TPP will provide much better access for goods and services to more than 800 million people across the TPP countries, which made up 36 per cent of global GDP," Mr Key said.

Source: 1 NEWS

"TPP is our biggest-ever free-trade deal and is estimated to boost our economy by at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030 - that will help to diversify our economy and mean more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealand."

Mr Key said it was New Zealand's first free-trade agreement with five of the TPP countries, including the largest and third-largest economies in the world - the United States and Japan.

"As a country, we won't get rich selling to ourselves," he said.

"Instead, we need to build new global markets for our products and services, and TPP will help make that happen."