23 Jan 2009

Key pledges strong ties with Ratana followers

10:21 pm on 23 January 2009

Prime Minister John Key pledged his strong commitment to Ratana followers at annual celebrations on Friday.

Mr Key was welcomed onto the Marae at Ratana Pa, near Wanganui, with about 27 National Party MPs.

The celebrations culminate on Sunday, which will be the 136th anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Ratana.

Accompanying Mr Key was Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and several other members of the Maori Party.

Mr Key acknowledged the courage and the vision of the Maori Party for signing a confidence and supply agreement with the National Government.

He told Ratana followers that Dr Sharples will led a separate economic forum to improve the outlook for Maori during the global economic crisis.

Mr Key also reinforced his belief that a Maori flag should be flown on Waitangi Day in February next year, saying it should be flown from Premier House as well as the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Labour pledges stronger relationship

Labour leader Phil Goff says he is committed to strengthening the traditional relationship between the party and the Ratana movement.

Mr Goff was welcomed onto the marae with about 20 Labour MP on Friday morning.

He says Labour and Ratana stand up for the interests of the ordinary Maori working person.

Mr Goff ays the party needs to work with Ratana followers to protect and advance the interests of the people they represent in the face of the global economic crisis.

But as Labour was welcomed, several Ratana leaders commented that they did not want to be taken for granted by Labour for another 80 years.

Mr Goff said Labour has a strong history with Ratana and he wants to build on that. He said the party does not take Ratana or any other organisation for granted.