There will be “some learnings” for Phil Goff after he offended the Māori King and subsequently faced a call for his resignation, Carmel Sepuloni says.
Goff, the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, forgot to observe the karakia and failed to recognise Kīngi Tūheitia’s own coronation during an event for the New Zealand delegation in London for King Charles III’s coronation.
Goff said no one in the room had experienced a coronation before. Ngira Simmonds, a spokesperson for Kīngi Tūheitia, explained that some people at the event had been to Kīngi Tūheitia’s coronation, as well as that of his mother.
Goff’s blunder, which he later apologised for, prompted some to call for his resignation.
“Phil Goff needs to stand down. He’s the sort of person that, in my view, he is not the kind of person who is appropriate for this mana,” prominent Māori leader Tukoroirangi ‘Tuku’ Morgan said.
Speaking on Sunday, acting Prime Minister Sepuloni said what Goff had done was “regrettable”.
“I think there’s some learnings that need to be taken from that, and I think that’s what we’ve heard through the media, so I’d agree with that,” she told Newshub.
She didn’t know if someone would be having a word with Goff.
“I haven’t had those conversations. I’m very much focused on what’s happening here in Aotearoa. I’m not the representative over in the UK.”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who is in London following King Charles’ coronation, said the faux pas was “certainly regrettable” and a “mistake”. He told RNZ’s Morning Report the Crown-Māori relationship needs to be acknowledged at events like those the New Zealand delegation was at.
Hipkins said Goff didn’t intend to “take away from the significance of Kīngi Tūheitia’s coronation, or any of his predecessors for that matter”.
“Clearly there’s a reminder here that we can think more carefully about how we do that in the future.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed in a statement to Newshub that Goff had apologised for the lapse in tikanga.
“The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of the Māori-Crown relationship, especially at this event,” a spokesperson said.
“This is a reminder to think more carefully about how the Māori-Crown relationship is recognised, in the future.”
Kīngi Tūheitia and his wife Makau Ariki Atawhai met King Charles at Buckingham Palace on Friday during a reception for visiting royals and dignitaries. While there, he presented four gifts on behalf of the iwi of the Kiingitanga.
It’s likely they will meet again at Windsor Castle on Sunday, with Kiingi Tūheitia and Atawhai invited into the royal box for the coronation concert.