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Friday 5 February 2016 | Published in Regional


WAITANGI – The New Zealand Prime Minister’s has not taken part in this year’s Waitangi Day celebrations at Te Tii Marae.

John Key accused the Ngapuhi trustees of acting like “Mickey Mouse” for trying to gag him from speaking on their marae.

Key’s decision followed controversy about whether to invite him at all followed by an attempt by the marae to say he could not speak on political issues.

The Prime Minister says there’s been too much restriction placed on him, and he didn’t want to put his staff in harms way with threats of violence.

“I can’t go and I won’t go to Waitangi with a gagging order on me, and I won’t go when there is a position where senior elders of that marae are actively encouraging, I think violence effectively.”

This is the first time Key hasn’t been at the celebrations in Waitangi, and follows a similar stance taken by his predecessor Helen Clark, who also refused to go because of threatening behaviour by Maori activists.