14 Apr 2016

NZers should have free entry to Treaty Grounds - Peters

8:36 pm on 14 April 2016

NZ First leader Winston Peters says New Zealanders should not have to pay to visit the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi.

The flagpole at the Treaty grounds.

The flagpole at the Treaty grounds. Photo: RNZ

The Waitangi National Trust charges $20 a head for a day pass, which includes a guided tour and cultural performance.

Overseas visitors pay $40.

Mr Peters told a Greypower audience in Kerikeri today that Waitangi was the country's most historic place, and entry for New Zealanders should be free.

He said other countries did not charge their citizens to see similar sites.

"If you visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the United States founding document was debated and approved, you will find there is no charge," he said.

"Visit other historical sites overseas like the Bastille, or battlefields at Gettysburg and Hastings and there is no charge."

Mr Peters said visitors to the national museum Te Papa did not pay either, and the government should fund the Waitangi National Trust so it did not have to impose a charge for the Treaty Grounds .

The Trust Chair Pita Paraone who's also a New Zealand First MP, could not be reached for comment.

Mr Peters also said the road leading into Waitangi and the historic bridge - the scene of many clashes over the years between police and sovereignty protesters - should be made a road of national significance.

The Waitangi National Trust is made up of people representing those who were present at the first signing of the Treaty in February 1840, including the Crown, missionaries and notable Maori chiefs.

The Trust was set up by Act Of Parliament to run the 500-hectare estate, including the Treaty Grounds,after the land was purchased in a run-down state by the then Governor General Lord Bledisloe and gifted to the nation in 1934.

The Trust has in the past defended its independence and resisted efforts by the last Labour government to bring it under the wing of the Historic Places Trust.