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PM turns to reggae for Waitangi

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/01/2017 Sean Martin

Prime Minister Bill English will speak at a powhiri in Auckland and attend a reggae concert to celebrate Waitangi Day this year.

After refusing an invitation to attend the official events at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi because of an ongoing dispute about powhiri speaking rights, Mr English revealed on Tuesday he had accepted an invitation from Ngati Whatua to attend celebrations at the Orakei Marae.

He described the marae, at Bastion Point, as "a special place for Maori".

Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust chairman Phillip Davis said the iwi was delighted Mr English had accepted its invitation.

"We are honoured that the prime minister has chosen to join us to celebrate a truly significant day in New Zealand's calendar," he said.

"Our people look forward to providing warm hospitality."

Mr English will also attend celebrations at Okahu Bay before attending a free family concert at Hoani Waititi Marae in west Auckland.

Black Slate and Katchafire are expected to headline the concert, which will also include a performance by The Royal Family Dance Crew founded by choreographer Parris Goebel who shot to fame choreographing routines for musicians including Justin Bieber and Rihanna.

While deputy leader Paula Bennett will lead the government's delegation to Waitangi on February 6, Mr English will travel there for the Iwi Chair's Forum on February 3.

"I'll be accompanied by a significant number of ministers because this provides an opportunity for ministers to engage with the Crown's treaty partners on issues of importance to Maoridom," he said.

More than 60 iwi leaders are expected to attend the forum.

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