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Clark's Waitangi Visit Announced Today

Clark's Waitangi Decision Annnounced today

Prime Minister Helen Clark said she would decide today whether she would attend Treaty of Waitangi commemorations at the Waitangi marae in Northland after a hui at the weekend failed to sort out a row over women’s speaking rights.

Speaking to on the Kim Hill show this morning Mrs Clark said that she was not concerned about the issue and the deciding where to attend was not difficult – she rated it a one out of a possible ten in difficulty.

Previously elders had agreed to suspend the marae protocol that forbids women to speak during the formal proceedings. However at a hui at the Northland marae over the weekend Ngapuhi leaders said they could not guarantee the Prime Minister’s safety.

Activist Titewhai Harawira has threatened elders that she would disrupt the gathering if Clark were allowed to speak, saying it was hypocritical for tribal protocol to change for a Pakeha woman but not for Maori.

Speaking to the Dominion National’s shadow spokesperson for Cultural Affairs Marie Hasler said she agreed with Ms Harawira’s stance and that it would be “ethically wrong and insulting to Maori women” to allow Mrs Clark an exception to speak on the marae.

Last year at the Waitangi celebrations Ms Harawira reduced Prime Minister Clark to tears after repeatedly interrupting her when she attempted to speak at the marae.

Helen Clark has also had offers to speak at a Ngai Tahu celebrations at Akaroa and said she would consider this if the Northland tribe could not work out its protocol.

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