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The crowd booed a combative Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and drowned out Associate Treaty Minister David Seymour, while Prime Minister Christopher Luxon sombrely reflected on history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds today.

It was a confronting reception for the coalition government.

Thousands gathered for the annual commemorations and to carry on the kōrero begun about the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi at last month’s nation-wide hui.

The scene had been set over the weekend, as opposition parties, iwi leaders and the Kiingitanga arrived on Te Whare Runanga in a show of solidarity.

Waitangi National Trust Board chair Pita Tipene said there was a “lot of tension in the air” and Tāme Iti led a white flag hikoi onto the Treaty Grounds this morning.

Activist lawyer Annette Sykes called out ACT leader David Seymour for “tinkering with Te Tiriti” and presenting “rewritten lines in te reo Māori to the nation that don’t make any sense”.

‘Behind closed doors’
“David Seymour I want to talk to you from my Pākehā whakapapa, not my Māori one.,” she said.

“My father was a staunch Catholic. He would never tinker with the testament of the Bible.

“The ten commandments are what he lived by. He would never presume the audacity he had the ability to do that.

“But you Mr Seymour, who doesn’t speak Māori and has had to let a woman speak today.

“You are putting forward a rewrite of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. You do it behind closed doors.

“Thank goodness. Who is the hero that leaked the document from the Ministry of Justice?”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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