LEADERS from across the political spectrum offered prayers at the service on Thursday morning at the upper marae on the Waitangi treaty grounds.
Both Prime Minister John Key and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira have paid tribute to the late Labour MP and former Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia, who died in April last year.
“He also came here a lot, Parekura, but he was more noted for roaming the beach camp and just being with ordinary people,” Mr Harawira said.
Mr Key said Mr Horomia will be remembered for his “beaming smile and the beauty of human spirit he had”.
Many of those who were outside for the duration of the service, which got underway a little after 5am, had umbrellas and jackets, while others huddled under trees.
Mr Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe left the service together and walked across the treaty grounds.
Mr Key has brushed off any criticism of him leaving on a trip to Australia on Waitangi Day for bilateral meetings with Tony Abbott.
“Unfortunately my job’s complicated and I have lots of bits to it,” he said.
“I try and fit in as much in as I possibly can, but in a practical sense, that was the date the Australians gave us.”
Mr Key left on Thursday afternoon, after most of the events at Waitangi concluded.