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Judith Collins won't attend Waitangi if she can't speak

National leader Judith Collins says it is 2021 and "every voice should be heard" at Te Whare Runanga on Waitangi's upper Marae grounds, after pledging she would not return if she was not allowed to speak. 

Source: 1 NEWS

Collins' comments came despite criticism earlier this year that it should be wāhine Māori to lead the discussion. 

National deputy leader Dr Shane Reti told reporters today he was pleased the Waitangi Trust has been consulting on women speaking from the upper marae.   

It comes after Collins told Magic Talk she would not be attending Waitangi if she was not allowed to speak.

Ardern has been able to speak from the mahau (porch) because she is the Prime Minister.

"She is the Prime Minister and Prime Minister should be allowed to speak, whether it's a Labour PM or a National PM, and if you understand our tikanga, she's not speaking on the pae (paepae) anyway she's speaking from the mahau," Labour MP Willie Jackson said. 

On Collins promising to not return if she was not allowed to speak, Jackson said "that'd be great". 

"I think it's fine if she doesn't go. My personal view is that tikanga should evolve... but we shouldn't change our tikanga because Judith Collins and Shane Reti are making a complaint about it."

Collins today doubled down on the pledge to not return. 

"I actually think the time has come for us to call this out. It is not something that I’m going to accepting again and I don’t think any political leader, certainly not the leader of the opposition, should have to try and apologise for the agenda," Collins said.

"And in a addition to that, the mana whenua, the women, are very strong woman who have been prevented themselves from speaking on what is essentially the national marae. I think it’s entirely unacceptable and the time has come, we have to change this."

Collins said it was 2021 and "every voice should be heard".

"It is simply not acceptable for women to be shouted down because men don’t want them to have their say…"

Ardern told reporters she had always seen marae protocol and women's speaking rights as "a matter for them [Waitangi National Trust].

"Of course I would support all political parties having the ability to speak on the day."

Collins' call to speak during this year's Waitangi Day commemorations was met with criticism, with Green Party's Marama Davidson saying it should be up to hau kāinga (local people of the marae) to decide who speaks and what roles are taken. 

"One thing that Judith Collins does not uphold is the status of wāhine Māori outside of just speaking from the taumata. She does not have the cultural expertise to be able to acknowledge that wāhine Māori need to lead the discussion. 

Māori leaders at Waitangi signalled last year they would give women more speaking rights on the marae next year. 

Ngāti Hine iwi leader Waihoroi Shortland apologised to Collins and said it would change next year.

Shortland said Collins’ claim of sexism reflected her lack of understanding of tikanga. 

Māori believe when visitors arrive at the marae, the God of War Tūmatauenga is present, with protecting women paramount

While changes may come to marae at Waitangi, all marae are unique and have their own tikanga.