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Strong words at Ratana Pa

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Latest Political News | Friday January 24 2014 8:37

Strong words at Ratana Pa


UPDATED 4:22pm: They came, they saw, they promised.

The country's politicians have had their say at annual Ratana celebrations.

Strong words have been spoken as New Zealand First and the Maori Party squared off over policy.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has criticised Maori Party policies such as Whanau Ora, Maori prison units, and the flying of the tino rangatiratanga flag as separatist and apartheid-like.

That's been rejected by Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples who says Mr Peters isn't a good political servant to Maori.

"I think he's a very astute guy, quick to jump on peoples faults, but the net result is that he does down a lot of Maori projects, and that's not good for Maori."

Meanwhile the Prime Minister's speaking plainly: We get results, the other lot don't.

That's the message the Prime Minister's taken to Ratana Church followers at annual celebrations near Wanganui today.

John Key says his message is a direct one.

"Historically Labour have promised you the earth but actually they've done much better under National than they have under Labour and if they continue to vote for Labour they'll continue to get what they've got which is fantastic rhetoric in opposition and no action in government."

Labour's on a charm offensive as Leader David Cunliffe makes his first visit to Ratana as head of his party.

He says his message to the Church and its followers is that now is a time to renew their alliance, honour the history they share and take it forward into a new era.

"We really appreciate that so many of the Ratana movement have been faithful to the Labour Kaupapa throughout our recent history but now we have an opportunity to take it to a new level for a new generation."

One of the regular political events of the year's about to get underway near Wanganui

Politicians of all stripes will be out in force for the Ratana Church's annual celebration of the birth of its founder - Tahu Potiki Wiremu Ratana.

The anniversary day is tomorrow, but tradition sees politicians attend Ratana Pa the day before.

Opposition party leaders are to be welcomed onto Ratana Pa this morning, with the Prime Minister and his delegation due to arrive in the afternoon.

Changing political times are what one MP with strong ties to Ratana, believes are behind the change in the way the church now approaches politics.

The Ratana Church, once a political player, is continuing to leave political choices up to its followers.

That point's being reinforced ahead of this weekend's annual celebration of the birth of its founder

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene puts the church's more neutral political position down to the influence of MMP.

"We've seen that in recent years since '96 the political landscape has changed drastically than what it did back in the last century."

A senior politician doesn't think annual Ratana commemorations are being overtaken by MPs

Green co-leader Metiria Turei says she used to be concerned that politicians were overshadowing the aim of Ratana's commemorations - celebrating the birth of the the church's founder.

But she says that's no longer the case.

"But Ratana was the first major organisation to engage in coalition politics with a political party, 60 years ago. so it's good that there's politics involved in the process."

Photo: Felix Marwick

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