5 Feb 2015

PM: NZ can't turn blind eye to IS

7:06 pm on 5 February 2015

Prime Minister John Key has used his speech at Waitangi to state the Government's case for supporting the international fight against Islamic State (IS).

John Key is escorted onto Te Tii Marae at Waitangi by Ngapuhi kuia Titewhai Harawira (R) and Ngati Whatua leader Naida Glavish.

John Key is escorted onto the marae by Ngati Whatua leader Naida Glavish, left, and Ngapuhi kuia Titewhai Harawira. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Mr Key received a traditional and tightly controlled welcome on Te Tii Marae at Waitangi today, in what some regulars have described as the most peaceful they have seen.

In his speech, Mr Key said escalating violence by IS meant this country could not turn the other way and it had to stand up for human rights.

Mr Key later said his comments were impromptu - but that people being burnt alive or beheaded could not be ignored.

"A number of speakers got up and said we shouldn't fight other people's wars and I agree with that. We shouldn't," he said.

"But I also think that we're a country that stands for human rights and, I don't know about you, but when I look at people being burned with petrol, I find it difficult to look the other way."

Mr Key said New Zealand needed to help the Iraqis to have some sort of capacity to stand up to IS.

PM calls for unity in NZ

Mr Key also called on New Zealanders to stop arguing about the Treaty of Waitangi and to focus on the positive.

He said notwithstanding the bloodshed and the land wars that followed, the people who signed the treaty did so because they wanted peace.

"The future of New Zealand isn't arguing about different versions of the treaty, in my book. It isn't going to feed kids or house people or get them jobs," he said.

"Actually, what's going to do all of that is when we say, well, in the end, we're a multi-cultural society based on a bi-cultural foundation."

The flagpole at Waitangi.

The flagpole at Waitangi. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Mr Key - who was heckled by protesters during the powhiri - made a personal appeal to Ngapuhi to settle their internal differences and negotiate a settlement with the Government.

He said the settlement had the potential to be one of the biggest, with massive potential to improve the lives of people in the Far North.

"I can't make the various groups see eye to eye or agree with each other or want to get around the table. I'm not here to navigate the politics or whatever the issues are up north.

"All I can say to you is the Government is here as a willing partner to want to engage and hopefully settle."

Mr Key said his government had focused heavily on treaty settlements, with 46 signed so far, and he hoped that by 2017 all settlements would be completed.

Labour little Andrew Little at Waitangi.

Labour leader Andrew Little at Waitangi Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski


Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Waitangi Protesters

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

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