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Political Report: Food for thought over Waitangi Day

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| Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:00 AM

Political Report: Food for thought over Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day last week sparked the usual tired debates that we see every year when it comes to race relations. There were those who, as usual, wanted to decry the protests, and there were those who took a shot at the media for daring to even mention or cover protests. And there were those who also accused the media of beating up on the negative parts of our national day.

There are a number of very good reasons that Waitangi Day is a focal point for protest and dissent, but there's one major reason that's often overlooked.

You see Waitangi Day is a very rare occasion in that it's a time, and a place, where all the senior and important politicians are gathered in one place. A captive audience if you will.

So isn't it logical that those with an issue choose to use Waitangi and Waitangi Day as an opportunity to put their point across? It's a legitimate form of dissent, and while we can argue the merits of the individual actions, it's almost inevitable that they occur. And in a democracy it is probably a good thing that they do.

Sure activists can, and do, take their causes to Wellington. But getting to Parliament is a costly proposition and the MPs aren't always there. And even when they are they can sit safe behind locked doors and not engage with those that have come to lobby them.

Waitangi's a much more in your face affair and it's harder to be ignored.

Waitangi also becomes a focus for arguments over the treaty settlement process. Some of the arguments have value, but a lot are really based on ignorance, racism, and an urge to score cheap political points

So let's put it in context; since 1992 the Crown has settled around a billion dollars worth of claims - that's around 50 million dollars a year in value.

Currently the Government is borrowing 78 million dollars a month as part of its fiscal policy. And last year it spent 10.2 billion dollars on superannuation alone.

That's 10 times to totality of all the money spent on Treaty deals. So in terms of what the Government is doing settlement costs are a very small drop in a very large bucket.

It's something to think about if our National Day makes you want to lose your rag.

Photo / Newstalk ZB

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