Cablegate: New Zealand: Pm Key and Diplomatic Corps Hear Grievances At


DE RUEHWL #0049 0410628
R 100628Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/10
SUBJECT: New Zealand: PM Key and Diplomatic Corps hear grievances at
Waitangi Day celebration

CLASSIFIED BY: Robert J Clarke, Charge' d Affaires, State,
Wellington; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. ( SBU) Summary: On February 5--the day before New Zealand's
official national "Waitangi Day"--the Ambassador and DCM joined a
large Diplomatic Corps contingent in Waitangi for a program
commemorating the 170th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of
Waitengi in 1840. The Diplomatic Corps' participation in
celebrations at the Waitangi site ended a 15-year absence which
began in 1995, when Maori protesters had underscored their
displeasure with the government by baring their buttocks at the
international guests. This year's carefully managed program for
diplomats offered nothing so dramatic, but the political nature and
underlying tensions of the celebrations came through during the
public exchanges between PM John Key and Maori leaders at the Te
Tii Marae (tribal area). End Summary.

2. (SBU) Security was tight at the Te Tii Marae with dozens of
Maori wardens and members of the Waitangi war canoe team armed with

paddles assigned to keep order. They formed up before PM Key's
arrival under the direction of a Maori activist who gave a running
commentary, saying that the PM would be safe (after being
manhandled at the 2009 celebration) "even though we don't all like
him." Key arrived surrounded by his own security and escorted by
Titewhai Harawira, the respected activist and mother of the
controversially outspoken Maori Party Member of Parliament (MP)
Hone Harawira. Key entered the marae through an entrance flanked
by controversial red, white and black Maori flags, received a Maori
welcome, and sat for a formal discussion with tribal leaders.

3. (SBU) Hone Harawira, who is not a member of the Waitangi iwi
(tribe) and normally would not be participating, was given the
microphone early in the exchanges. Harawira began by lecturing Key
for criticizing him based on newspaper stories (about his misuse of
official travel funds). He berated Key and National Party policy,
saying that "a lot of our people are still starving and raising GST
(sales tax) might be good for you and your mates but it is
certainly not going to help the people on low incomes." In a
rambling presentation, he also said "you know what I am saying
about Pakeha (caucasian) colonization is true."

4. (SBU) Dr. Pita Sharples, co-head of the Maori Party, which is in
the governing coalition with the National Party, sat with PM Key.
He was at pains in his remarks to reject Harawira's suggestion that
being in the coalition was compromising Maori demands. When his
turn came, PM Key spoke confidently about progress on the Treaty
settlements. He acknowledged disproportionate Maori unemployment
levels and pledged to address them. He said that the root of
unemployment among young Maori was a high school dropout rate. His
government, he said, was looking at alternate, better ways of
delivering education but needed the cooperation of parents and
tribal leaders. Key, in a reference to on-going negotiations on
the Foreshore and Seabed Act (which in 2004 stopped Maori from
going to the courts to seek customary title to foreshore and seabed
areas), said 2010 could be a "breakthrough year." He added the
cautionary note, however, that the negotiations had to have give
and take on both sides and had a "bottom line of access rights for
all New Zealanders." Key mentioned outright repeal of the Act,
which many Maori are calling for, only as one possible outcome of
the negotiations.

5. (C) Comment: PM Key's remarks on the Foreshore and Seabed Act
at Waitangi have generated criticism among Maori because they
seemed to walk back a position he took last November which seemed
to promise repeal. The smart betting is that he will eventually
back repeal, which underlies Maori Party cooperation with the
National Party, but only after he achieves the difficult task of an
"elegant" solution which does protect access rights for all New
Zealanders to the foreshore and seabed areas, rights which are
potentially highly lucrative. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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