Watch: Bill English explains Waitangi snub, says Kiwis 'cringe' at annual protests, keen for day 'we're proud of'

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1 NEWS

The Prime Minister has blasted the Maori Committee in charge of commemorations at Te Tii Marae, saying its protocol of not allowing him to speak is "disrespectful".

Bill English says a decision was made not to attend in light of high-profile events at previous Waitangi Day commemorations at Te Tii Marae.
Source: 1 NEWS

Bill English went on to say he believes New Zealanders "cringe" at the protests that occur most years at Waitangi.

"Some of the activities that have gone on make New Zealanders cringe and I don't think that's a good thing for our national day.

"There's been any number of events over the years.

"I don't want to see Waitangi Day bogged down in the same kind of roundabout discussions that have become a feature of the arrangements at Te Tii Marae.

"This is a day New Zealanders want to be proud of their country because we're doing so well.

"So I've made the decision that the arrangements that they wanted to put in place were not acceptable ... not respectful ... so I'll be celebrating Waitangi elsewhere."

Mr English denies he's playing politics, but says he's seen former prime ministers speak on the marae, so doesn't believe it's protocol to ban him from speaking.

"The marae committee has decided that the Prime Minister of New Zealand can not speak on their marae and as far as I'm concerned that's not respectful of the role."

Mr English is repeating John Key's refusal to attend commemorations in Waitangi without the right to speak at Te Tii lower marae on Feb 5; as had been traditional.

He said he will instead spend the day in Auckland.

Mr English said he has accepted the invitation to lead a delegation of Ministers to Waitangi to meet iwi leaders on February 3.

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