Rainbows tame Waitangi

Written By: - Date published: 2:25 pm, February 7th, 2009 - 6 comments
Categories: john key, maori party, Media, national - Tags:


Gosh what a difference a few years can make when it comes to symbols of national identity. Not so long ago National had a leader happy to springboard off dog-whistling race-divisive carping about the Treaty Grievance Industry in speeches and billboards.

More recently National campaigned on abolition of the Maori seats, at least until it became apparent that the cost to potential coalition options outweighed the benefits of ensuring ongoing redneck  support, but now with Hone Keii at the helm it’s full steam ahead to more harmonious relations between the Crown and Tangata Whenua. That has to be a massive improvement and long may it last.

Certainly our media took the new theme by the scruff and ran with it as fast as their little legs could carry them. Rapturous and heart-rending exclamations of what a peaceful and celebratory mood abounded. Waitangi was a day of feel good rainbows and fairy dust. Beatific smiles shone from Maori and Pakeha politicians alike in a celebration of their partnership. There wasn’t much mention of what the Treaty was about, why the British had to resort to a treaty in the first place, or what Maori calls to “Honour the Treaty” actually mean, but then why spoil a lovely day in the sun with talk about what the day actually commemorates.

The show didn’t start off quite as planned, with a couple of people shoving the PM and shouting “give us our land back”, but happily they were quickly caricatured as just a couple of outmoded freaks that hadn’t moved on. In our dark past “Maori protestors” taking such significant action as assaulting the PM would have been portrayed by our media as symptomatic of much broader malaise in bicultural relations and would have framed coverage of any subsequent Waitangi coverage. Now it seems it’s better not to let isolated incidents, or relevant history, get in the way of a determined media Love In.

So warm and contrasting was the media’s view of events (hereforth to be know as “Big Happy Fun Waitangi Day”) that it reminded me of this 2007 quote from Pita Sharples:

Sue Abel, in her article, Wild Maori and Tame Maori in television news, claims in her case study of Waitangi Day, that television news coverage routinely divides Maori into “tame Maori”, who support the status quo, and “wild Maori”, who are marginalized and demonized in news coverage. The wild Maori are further described as deviant (‘them’) and making unreasonable demands in an unreasonable manner.

Looks like all we’ve ever needed to tame Waitangi Day into the happy celebration of the status quo so longed for by our msm is a conservative Prime Minister with a few supportive Maori coalition partners in tow.

6 comments on “Rainbows tame Waitangi”

  1. higherstandard 1

    “Looks like all we’d ever needed to tame Waitangi Day into the happy celebration of the status quo so longed for was a conservative Prime Minister with supportive Maori coalition partners in tow.”

    Looks like all we’d ever needed to tame Waitangi Day into the happy celebration was for the Maori party to be brought into the government and the owners and custodians of Waitangi to be treated with due respect by the sitting government.

    To quote Felix there you go fixed it for you.

  2. Irascible 2

    Interesting to note that overseas reports on Waitangi Day highlighted Key’s discomfort at being attacked and pointing out that such attacks had kept Helen away from the Te Tii Marae.
    Misreporting from New Zealand as companion story.
    Other companion story, by David Barber, played up the flying of the Maori Sovereignty flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge alleging that Helen had forbidden it to be flown on the bridge and presenting Key as being the great defuser by stating it would be flown.
    Irresponsible reporting by Mr Barber as Helen never entered the debate as the decision was made by the Harbour Bridge Authorities. Mind you Mr Barber also reports that a major break through by Maori was to have a Maori, Pita Sharples, being made Minister of Maori Affairs. He seems to forget that there have been Maori Ministers of Maori Affairs before the Key Govt. This brings one to ask who is Mr Barber and what credibility does he have as a journalist reporting on the NZ scene?

  3. TBA 3

    What a great change it was this year to actually see the Prime Minister at Waitangi.

    While the incident on Friday was unfortunate but the whole crowd was buzzing about Prime Minister Key all the time I was there. It was hard to walk around the place without hearing people talking about him. Hopefully this year sets the new bench mark for Waitangi as it was such a radically different feeling this year compared to the previous 13 years that I have been attending.

  4. the sprout 4

    i agree TBA, it’s certainly a welcomed change. i hope it lasts.

  5. Chris G 6

    “the whole crowd was buzzing about Prime Minister Key all the time I was there.”

    a) Its good to know the Nats successfully turned the NZ Elections in to a US President bid. one man at the front. – Leads me to my next point

    b) Its good to know that (Like sprout alluded to) Maori are quick to forgive for the Nats historical disharmony with Maori eg. Brash playing the racecard as Peter Keenan suggested… Funnily enough the Buzz around Key forgets that the ole boys who were behind Brash are behind Key.


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