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Baby jokes, warm reception for PM at Waitangi

Baby jokes, warm reception for PM at Waitangi

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was welcomed in the first day of her five-day visit to Waitangi with baby jokes and a warm reception from prominent iwi leaders.

The Iwi Chairs Forum hui was her first official engagement during her stay in Waitangi.

Ms Ardern said she was heartened by the discussions and said the hui was warm and practical.

But before the iwi leaders got down to business they took a moment to offer up a name for her baby - if it was a girl.

"The offer of Waimirirangi was made and the significance of that to Ngāpuhi, in particular, is queen of Ngāpuhi," Ms Ardern said.

"I think it was an honour to have that suggested as well."

Crown Māori Relations Minister, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, joked he thought someone might suggest Sonny would be a good Ngāpuhi name - a reference to Ngāpuhi leader Sonny Tau.

The discussions were closed to the media, but Ms Ardern said she was encouraged by the tone of the hui, attended by around 150 people.

She said they talked about issues around water quality, but water ownership and charging water bottling companies was not raised.

"That conversation has been in place for a long time, it will continue," Ms Ardern.

Iwi have been told by previous governments no one owns the water, however last year during its election campaign the Labour Party announced they will charge commercial water bottlers a royalty.

The Iwi Chairs Forum had a strong working relationship with the National government, but Ms Ardern said she did not feel any tension during the hui.

"I'm new, and like any partnership that you are forming together of course that takes a little bit of time.

"We will be looking for practical ways to bring to reality increased Māori home ownership, more jobs for our rangatahi and working together on child wellbeing - in particular for tamariki."

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