A Ngapuhi leader says we need to change the way Waitangi Day is celebrated, admitting Ngapuhi embarrassed itself this year.
Te Kotahitanga co-chair Pita Tipene says Waitangi will always be a place for discussion and debate but we need to celebrate it in the year 2016.
Mr Tipene says Ngapuhi needs to be a united front and is offering to help those at the Te Tii Marae come together.
Prime Minister John Key decided not to make the trip to Waitangi this year amid concern about his security and a "gagging order" preventing him from speaking freely on the lower marae.
He's opted to spend Waitangi Day in Auckland attending a couple of events including the NRL Auckland Nines.
At the dawn service attended by a few hundred people on the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell prayed for Mr Key's return next year.
"We are a better nation when the Treaty of Waitangi is honoured. In that light, I pray to you that Prime Minister John Key returns to Waitangi next year," he said.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce offered a prayer on behalf of the Government at the service and told reporters he too is keen to see Mr Key back there next year.
"Frankly I'm sure the prime minister is keen to return. Te Ururoa will be keen for him to return and I'm keen for him to return. But it's important that the invitation be respectful of the office of prime minister of New Zealand," said Mr Joyce, who yesterday had a sex toy thrown at him by a protester at Waitangi.
"It's important the prime minister of the country has the ability to speak on the issues and respond to things raised on the marae. And I think if the invitation is extended in the normal way, against the way it was this year, I'm sure he'll be very keen to come back."
Waitangi is the crucible of New Zealand and the formation of modern New Zealand and the head of government should be here"
Labour leader Andrew Little
Labour leader Andrew Little says the dawn service kicks off our national day and the prime minister should be there.
"And hopefully Te Ururoa Flavell's prayer will be answered and he will return next year," he said.
"We're going to have to work out a way that for our national day the head of government, whoever it is, is able to be part of the observances of it. It's too important not to be and i I think the prime minister needs to be here."
Meanwhile, hundreds of people have arrived at Waitangi for today's celebrations.