TODAY |

More 'dignified' celebrations at Waitangi would make it a day 'New Zealanders are proud of' - Bill English

National Party leader Bill English will again skip the service at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, instead foregoing it for Auckland's Orakei Domain Waitangi Day event. 

PM Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday she will be attending Waitangi for five days.

Mr English told TVNZ1's Breakfast today the decision made last year to not go to the Waitangi Treaty Ground events prompted the organisers of the Treaty grounds to take more control over what happens on Waitangi Day. 

"I would hope that this year the trustees demonstrate, after decades of these controversies, they can control the situations so that it is dignified and it is a day New Zealanders are proud of."

"There were times there when there was very intense tension, violence, contention, that time I think has passed, relationship between Maori and Pakeha is much more constructive and progressive."

"If they can do that then I along with many other New Zealanders would like to go there."

He said recent controversies have been "pretty trivial" and "just kind of bored people with the repetition of them". 

Mr English said he hopes a trouble-free February 6 at Waitangi would "be great for New Zealand". 

He said he went to the Orakei Waitangi event in Auckland and said it was "dignified" and a "great day".  

He thought the new government "has some issues to deal with with Maori, I don't think [the new government] are used to the independence of these much strengthened iwi". 

"They're much less dependent on government, and therefore Labour."

The National Party leader said he hoped Waitangi Treaty ground trustees could take control of any trouble this year. Source: Breakfast