E nga mana, e nga reo, e rau rangatira ma, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
I hope everyone gets out today to celebrate Waitangi day.
For many, many years Waitangi day was a day of tension, when frustration over treaty breaches smashed into expectations of a nice civic event. And a large part of the population complained. Can’t we all be friends?
There has been a great deal of politics. Back in 1975 the third Labour Government passed the Treaty of Waitangi Act and set up the Waitangi Tribunal with somewhat limited powers but the intent was to address treaty breaches. Norm Kirk inspired it with this simple piece of poetic symbolism.
Then the Lange led fourth Labour Government did something really good. My membership of the Labour Party lapsed not long after this such was my disgust with Rogernomics but let me say that the Nuclear free legislation and changes to the Waitangi Tribunal’s jurisdiction to allow it to investigate treaty breaches back to 1840 were the two highlights.
Things get complex politically. National Ministers Doug Graham and Chris Finlayson did good work. It seems that the rhetoric of a campaign and the decision making of right wing but principled politicians come up with interesting results. And there were really interesting local political examples, like Andrew Judd, who was elected as Mayor of New Plymouth on a subtlety right wing platform but then had a real road to Damascus conversion and realised and acknowledged the importance of Tangata Whenua. His attempt to ensure there was Maori representation on the New Plymouth Council was met with the perfect red neck response and he stood down.
It is funny really. Auckland Council has, with National’s guidance, done the same thing. And the sky has not fallen.
And recently the tone of Waitangi day has improved. Last year it was a wonderful thing.
This year the media coverage has made me cross. The usual elements including Simon Bridges’s twitterer have tried to make a big deal because Jacinda did not instantaneously recite the treaty word for word after being blindsided by a question.
But in the interests of our national day I will say no more.
Have a good one. While you are enjoying it reflect on the egregious way the treaty has been broken and how steps to atone are modest but are being graciously received.