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Government Announces Sir Tipene As PM's Kaikorero

The Government has moved to ease tensions between Maori and the crown by announcing Sir Tipene O¡¯Regan as the Prime Minister¡¯s kaikorero, or speaker, at Sunday's formal powhiri.

The powhiri will be the official welcome for leaders of the 20 APEC nations scheduled to attend the APEC summit meetings in Auckland on Sunday and Monday. Indonesia tonight announced its president B.J. Habibie will not attend this year's APEC meeting.

Sir Tipene will welcome all foreign leaders in the Maori tongue. His role will involve flanking Mrs Shipley, being her escort and official speaker during the powhiri.

Mrs Shipley says Sir Tipene has a distinguished background in trade and economic development. He is recognised as an expert in Maori culture and is a well known kaumatua in New Zealand.

¡°I am honoured that Sir Tipene representing Ngai Tahu will be at my side during the ceremonies. Ngai Tahu welcomed our guests to the first APEC minister's meeting this year and it is fitting that the iwi will be at the last meeting,¡± Mrs Shipley said.

Sir Tipene will escort all foreign leaders through the powhiri process and will respond to the welcome speeches from Auckland's Ngati Whatua iwi on behalf of the Prime Minister and the group of APEC leaders.

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