A senior member of the Rātana Church says the Maori King, Tuheitia Paki, would have been very disappointed that the Prime Minister did not attend the church's annual celebrations at the weekend.
Andre Meihana, an Apotoro Wairua (spiritual apostle) for the church, said the King usually visits Rātana Pā for the event on Saturday, but went on Friday this year so he could meet with the Prime Minister.
Mr Meihana said King Tuheitia arrived early for the pōwhiri, before the Government, to show John Key how united Māori are as a whole, including the bond between the Rātana Church and the King.
He said King Tuheitia, who is very unwell, left his sickbed to meet with Mr Key, but the Prime Minister only let the church know the day before the celebrations began that he was not going to attend.
Mr Meihana said Māori leaders such as the King wanted to meet with other leaders, not their second-in-command.
Mr Key is currently overseas and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English led the Government's delegation.