6 Feb 2012

Waitangi chair threatens end to powhiri after protest

5:46 am on 6 February 2012

The new chairman of the Waitangi marae is threatening to end Waitangi Day welcomes for politicians unless protesters can learn to behave.

Rihari Dargaville, who took on the chairman's job at the marae two months ago, says he is angry and disappointed that protesters shouted down Prime Minister John Key while he was trying to make a speech on Sunday and wrecked the powhiri for the Government.

Mr Key's speech lasted less than two minutes and his visit to Waitangi marae was cut short.

Mr Dargaville says he knew feelings were running high among Mana supporters, but took the word of party leaders that they would keep protest under control.

He says instead, the protesters abused marae protocol by insulting and drowning out speakers and the Maori wardens trying to keep order were no match for them.

"So next year I will make it clear, as the chairman of the marae committee, we'll be using police force to ensure that they will be at a distance that will ensure that we actually apply our protocols and our kawa in the appropriate way", he says.

"If it ever occurs again, as far as I'm concerned, there will be no more powhiri on this marae".

Meanwhile, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says he is not concerned about the protest, saying it was understandable and hardly surprising.