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Govt To Attend Ratana In Force

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Jan 20 NZPA - Prime Minister John Key and almost half his 58 MPs will attend Ratana celebrations this year in a show of "commitment" towards Maori.

Mr Key, who will be led on to the marae by Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, said 27 MPs including several senior ministers would attend the annual celebrations.

"It'll be a real show of not only strength from the Government, but commitment," he said today.

"I think we've demonstrated that already in the way we've put together the Government.

"We want to work hard to achieve a better future for Maori New Zealanders and I'll be talking about those issues and the commitments we're making on the marae."

Political leaders descend on Ratana Pa near Wanganui in January every year as part of three days of celebrations marking the birth of movement founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

The annual attempt to woo Maori is usually the first major event on the political calendar.

It will be the first time Mr Key has attended Ratana as prime minister and the first time since he cut a deal a confidence and supply deal with the Maori Party.

A spokesman for Labour leader Phil Goff said about 20 MPs including Mr Goff, his deputy Annette King and former Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen would attend the celebrations this year.

The Labour contingent is expected to be greeted on to the marae late in the morning, while Mr Key's group will be welcomed in the early afternoon.

Mr Key attended Ratana twice as opposition leader, playing volleyball with youths attending the celebration on the first occasion as he waited to go on to the marae.

In a reference to his broken arm, Mr Key today quipped that he would not be playing volleyball this year.

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