Waitangi Day – 6th February

treatyImage from the Human Rights Commission website.

This is the day in 1840 when the Crown, represented by William Hobson, and 40 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  By the end of that year more than 500 other chiefs around the nation had also signed this treaty. Article One  gave Queen Victoria the right to complete government; Article Two gave Maori chieftainship over their lands, villages and treasures but allowed them to sell their land to the Crown for agreed-upon sums; and Article Three gave Maori the same rights and duties as the British colonisers (NZHerald).

In the 1980s, after many protests and political marches, the Treaty became rightfully enshrined in New Zealand’s law and stands in many ways instead of a constitution. “By the end of the 1980s these included several pieces of legislation, the requirement that government agencies be more bicultural in their mode of operation, and an extension of the Waitangi Tribunal’s powers, allowing it to investigate claims dating back to 1840” (NZHistory).

Consequently, this treaty is a very important part of who we are as a nation.

However, as they have done since the 1980s, a small group at Te Tii marae have once again hijacked what should be a celebration of partnership, a celebration of our nationhood. They have made New Zealand’s special day all about them, grabbing attention away from what is good about us, together. It is so uncivilised, so ungracious. They have been slow to acknowledge that the government has worked hard to rectify the many wrongs wrought in the past and has promised to continue doing so until all are satisfied. Yet they will never be satisfied. They are out of control and year after year bring shame and negativity to a day that should celebrate our togetherness, while not forgetting the past. This small group spoil the day for everybody else.

What arrogance to not allow the democratically elected Prime Minister to speak at that place of partnership, and, while I am at it, what arrogance to not allow women to speak, to stand equal, as they are in the nation’s laws, alongside their menfolk. They claim  ‘culture’, but a generation ago , such prejudice against women was also part of the mainstream culture of our land. It is no longer. Why do we continue to allow such sexism at national celebrations when it is against the laws that govern our land?

I wish, instead, that the folk at Te Tii would turn their attention to making a positive difference in our nation. How about campaigning with the rest of us for compulsory Maori language learning in schools instead of chucking rags at the Queen and dildos at Ministers of Parliament. That achieves nothing but alienation.

For goodness sake, Te Tii, do something positive for a change!

As a result of the uncouth and rude behaviour witnessed at Te Tii, I have come to dread the shame of our national day. No wonder most Kiwis see it as simply a gift of another day off work to go to the beach, to picnic and to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.


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