Te Pāti Māori has been welcomed alongside the Kīngitanga onto the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, because it’s less a political party than part of the mana motuhake movement, co-leader Rawiri Waititi says.

Mana motuhake means Māori self-determination, independence and sovereignty.

Waititi and co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer spoke to reporters ahead of their pōwhiri onto the grounds, alongside the Kīngitanga movement and Kīngi Tuheitia this afternoon.

It follows a pōwhiri for opposition parties yesterday, which only included Labour and the Green Party as te Pāti Māori opted to join the Kīngitanga’s pōwhiri today.

The decision disappointed some speakers from opposition parties, who suggested yesterday they would have preferred te Pāti Māori to join them.

Asked if they would have been stronger together, had they joined other opposition parties, Waititi said Māori had “been in opposition since 1840”.

“This is not been opposition in a kawanatanga (governance) space, we are opposition in a mana motuhake space.

“Both kawanatanga, National and Labour, didn’t want us. We’re the party nobody wants.

“In government, they don’t want us. In opposition, they want to assimilate us. Standing with mana motuhake, we can just be us.”

Waititi said te Pāti Māori was joining the Kīngitanga as a fellow mana motuhake movement – rather than a political party.

“We are the ringaringa (hands) and the waewae (legs) of mana motuhake inside a kawanatanga space.”

“If you know, you understand what Te Tiriti o Waitangi is all about, it’s that we maintain our full and exclusive rights to our domain, to our kāinga (homes), to our whenua (land), and to our people. So we will continue and maintain that position.

“This is not about us having to be subservient to a system that continues to traumatise and hurt our people. This is about us now realigning to the mana motuhake space that our people voted for, and that our people desire.”

Waititi said the main message his party wanted to send was about kotahitanga (unity).

“This is about the power of our people and understanding the power of our vote in a democracy.”

How the coalition government would be received tomorrow was “entirely up to Ngā Puhi”, he said.

Ngarewa-Packer said te Pāti Māori transcended left or right and anyone who tried to categorise it as either showed “a lack of understanding”.

“We are a Māori movement.”

She said people had a right to display and express “righteous anger” in New Zealand.

“Our anger as Māori isn’t creating harm, our anger is about being respectful and teaching aroha (compassion). It’s really important for everyone to understand, while we’re under threat as indigenous people, Te Pāti Māori must stand where that unity and that core of righteous anger belongs.

“We’ve seen destruction from either or [National or Labour], it’s just that this Government’s been really open about it.

“There’s no other agenda and it doesn’t matter how anyone else perceives that.”

Ngarewa-Packer said the party had not heard Labour or the Greens’ messages at Waitangi yesterday as it was only interested in messages from “our people who gave us the mandate”.

“They are incensed by this three-headed taniwha.”