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Letter To NZine - Waitangi Day
John Creely - 28/1/00

Every year we celebrate Waitangi Day with a national holiday. To many it is nothing more than that, just another day off work. To many it is a day to celebrate the signing of a Treaty which was unusual in its time, being a recognition of the rights of the indigenous people by the Crown. To others it is a symbol of tokenism by a Colonial power interested only in keeping the natives quiet so they could get on with colonisation.

To some it is an opportunity to protest and get some media attention. However it seems to me that the reasons for protest these days are becoming increasingly removed from issues relating to the Treaty itself. A prime example of this has been the attention given by the media to Mrs Titewhai Harawira and her protest about the inequity of speaking rights on the Marae according to gender. This has led in the past to her stopping Helen Clark from speaking, and she seems determined to make her mark again this year, though who can blame her for taking the opportunity to get her message heard.

On the other hand the Waitangi Day celebration is supposedly a day of unification for New Zealanders, who are supposedly all equal under the Treaty. The reality is that while half the country is uniting, the other half is dividing and the arguments on both sides are complex and unlikely to be resolved easily.

The solution that has been proposed so many times is to turn Waitangi Day into a truly uniting national holiday called 'New Zealand Day'.




 
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