- Date published:
9:04 am, February 5th, 2020 - 93 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, greens, jacinda ardern, james shaw, labour, national, nz first, Politics, same old national, treaty settlements, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags: te tiriti o waitangi, Treaty of waitangi, waitangi day, waitangi tribunal
Waitangi Day and the days leading up to it is a very important part of our country’s political and cultural calendar. For a couple of days a year we shake off our holiday slumber and get ready for the year to come while at the same time reflecting on where we are as a nation.
For a long time Waitangi day has been controversial. It was an event that allowed for the venting of rage that Nga Puhi in particular felt at the breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. The breaches are well documented and detailed. Just check out any of the reports of the Waitangi Tribunal to understand and appreciate how blatant and calculating many of the breaches were and the degree of upset and angst and the sense of loss caused by them.
The treaty itself is quite a simple document. Please note that the Te Reo version takes precedence according to well established principles of International Law.
Article one has the vexed issue of what rights were ceded. The Te Reo version included the word “kāwanatanga” which loosely translated into governance. If they intended for Maori to cede sovereignty the drafters of the treaty would have used the phrase “Tino Rangatiratanga” but then Maori would not have signed.
Under article two the Crown promised to protect for Maori their lands, villages and all their treasures. This has been given an expansive interpretation, as it should. For instance in what I believe is one of the most important decisions the Tribunal has given it said this about the protection of Te Reo:
Some New Zealanders may say that the loss of Māori language is unimportant. The claimants in reply have reminded us that the Māori culture is a part of the heritage of New Zealand and that the Māori language is at the heart of that culture. If the language dies the culture will die, and some thing quite unique will have been lost to the world.
Our task has been to decide whether the Treaty has been broken in this respect, and if it has, what should be done about it.
The evidence and argument has made it clear to us that by the Treaty the Crown did promise to recognise and protect the language and that that promise has not been kept. The ‘guarantee’ in the Treaty requires affirmative action to protect and sustain the language, not a passive obligation to tolerate its existence and certainly not a right to deny its use in any place. it is, after all, the first language of the country, the language of the original inhabitants and the language in which the first signed copy of the Treaty was written. But educational policy over many years and the effect of the media in using almost nothing but english has swamped the Māori language and done it great harm.
We have recorded much of what we were told of the effect upon Māori children of our educational policy and it makes dismal reading. it seems that many Māori children leave school uneducated by normal standards, and that disability bedevils their progress for the rest of their lives.
We have recommended that te reo Māori should be restored to its proper place by making it an official language of new Zealand with the right to use it on any public occasion, in the Courts, in dealing with government departments, with local authorities and with all public bodies. We say that it should be widely taught from an early stage in the educational process. We think instruction in Māori should be available as of right to the children of parents who seek it. We do not recommend that it should be a compulsory subject in the schools, nor do we support the publication of all official documents in both english and Māori, at least at this stage in our development, for we think it more profitable to promote the language than to impose it.
Clearly there are significant issues about the treaty and wise and inclusive political leadership is required to navigate the country through the ongoing settlement process.
There has been an intense effort over the past few years to make Waitangi a reflective gathering rather than a disruptive one. The speeches were moved from the lower marae to the upper marae. And the politicians behaved themselves, mostly.
Fast forward to yesterday. Leading up to the 180th anniversary of the signing of the treaty and the entry onto the Marae and the speeches should have been a sombre event. But no one told Simon Bridges. Instead he thought he should show up and be political and basically a bit of a dick.
The event was marked by the four major leaders walking onto the Marae together. This made quite a sight. It appears that at Jacinda’s suggestion James Shaw placed himself between Simon Bridges and Winston Peters, just in case.
The speeches were interesting. Jacinda’s was as good as you thought it would be. As Zane Small at Newshub comments:
As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends Waitangi Day celebrations at the upper marae for her third time, there are Māori issues that cannot be ignored, including Ihumātao, Whānau Ora and Oranga Tamariki uplift of Māori children.
The Prime Minister asked to be held to account when she first visited in 2018.
“Hold us to account,” she said at the time, standing on the paepae at the upper marae. “Because, one day I want to be able to tell my child that I earned the right to stand here… Only you can tell me when I have done that.”
She told Newshub ahead of Waitangi Day 2020: “I will keep going back to Waitangi and be present at Waitangi. You can’t be held to account unless you’re there.
“That’s important to me, to continue to be there and have those discussions, and actually on all of those areas we know that there’s work to be done – some of them incredibly complex – but on each, we are making good progress.”
James Shaw’s speech was gracious and elegant. I think he is doing a good job.
Andrew Little gave his speech entirely in Te Reo. Well done Andrew. He has apparently been learning Te Reo for an hour a day for a couple of years.
Waatea News had the headline of the year so far, “Little reo goes a long way” and described what happened in this way:
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little has brought a new sense of optimism to the Ngāpuhi settlement process by delivering his speech at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in te reo Māori.
Mr Little emphasised how much he had learned in his two years in the job, to the delight of the audience.
Jacinta Arden said when she asked Māori to hold the Government to account, it was not just for what it did but the way it did it.
Mr Little’s speech was an example of how it was attempting to bridge the two worlds, with not just its Māori MPs and Ministers crossing the bridge every day but other MPs trying to do the same.
The speech and the subsequent response can be seen in this video from Radio New Zealand:
Kelvin David put it well.
Bridges’ speech was a train wreck and totally inappropriate for the occasion. He promised a four lane highway from Whangarei to Auckland. Obviously he has missed news about the Government’s big infrastructure spend. And how will a road reduce poverty or improve education standards or provide housing or protect our environment?
But as Simon Wilson has pointed out (paywall) this was not a speech for Waitangi. This was a stump speech for the rest of the population and for his base. Bridges did make a fool of himself, but he wouldn’t have minded because he wasn’t talking to the people who laughed at him.
It is a shame really. Sometimes the occasion should be too important for petty politics to interfere. Yesterday was one of those occasions.