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Kerre Woodham: How glorious was Waitangi Day?

Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Wed, 7 Feb 2024, 1:08PM
 Photo / File | Christine Cornege
Photo / File | Christine Cornege

Kerre Woodham: How glorious was Waitangi Day?

Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Wed, 7 Feb 2024, 1:08PM

Have there ever been school holidays that have gone on quite so long?  

I mean, I know that when I was a school kid back in the antediluvian times, school holidays did seem to go on forever and ever and ever. Did they ever go on this long? I hope that you had a fabulous time with your family and that you're looking forward to them being settled into some sort of routine.  

How glorious was Waitangi Day? Utterly, utterly. Splendid. Thank you to all of you who were working so those parents who were getting ready to finally start the school year could do the last-minute bits and pieces. And thank you too, to the lifesavers and the other first responders and all those who were out and about looking out for all of us who were flocking to the beaches, and the parks, and the festivals, and making the most of a day off in the sun.   

Such a perfect day. I went looking for a beach to lie on in a sea to swim in and I didn't have to go very far, which is another glory of this country. So many families of every ethnicity, so many young peoples out in big groups, so many kiwis having just a joyous time celebrating all that is good about living in this country.  

The tents were set up, and the barbecues were out, and the kids were in the playgrounds or in the water, and there were generations of families. It's just lovely, really. Absolutely lovely.  

Waitangi itself seemed to be a success according to those who were there from all sides. And the debate, and the pageantry, and the history that speaks to our future is another thing that is wonderful about this country as the Prime Minister said this morning on the Mike Hosking Breakfast:

“I mean, I came away last night reflecting on it going well actually. Which other country on Earth do you get everyone coming along with their strongly held views and differences of opinion, actually showing up in one place on one day, having an aeration of it all and because they're actually all committed to advancing New Zealand. We disagree strongly about actually how to go about delivering those outcomes, but man, that wouldn't happen in any other country. So, look, I think by and large it was pretty respectful and I think Ngāpuhi did a pretty good job managing it all.” 

Yeah, absolutely, and that's what everybody else has said as well. It's a shame that good news doesn't make the news. A piece of social media was picked up by news outlets, as is their want these days, and turned into real news. ‘PM repeats himself’. Well, he kind of needs to because it's obvious the message is not getting through.  

ACT, a coalition partner in the government, wants a debate on the principles of the Treaty. They don't want to rip up the Treaty. They don't want to change the Treaty’s wording, they don't want to deem the Treaty null and void. They want a debate on the principles on what that means going forward.  

National says the Treaty Principles Bill isn't terribly helpful. It’s divisive and unhelpful, precisely for these reasons, that people will seize on an argument and create one if they need to. They will be fearful.  

There are some within Māori who see it as a direct attack on the Treaty, despite the fact that National has said there is no intention or commitment to support the bill beyond the first reading. It was part of the coalition agreement that it would get a first reading. After that, National has said there is no intentional commitment to support the first reading.  

You need three readings. It's not going to pass if National are true to their word. Christopher Luxon has said, I don't know how we can be any clearer than that - no intention or commitment to support beyond the first reading.  Seymour's already said they're not going to throw out the Treaty anyway, and there are a lot at Waitangi who believed that was the intent. It is not.  

Again, how much clearer can you be? They've said it time and time again.  

So clearly, there has to be more clarity. You have to repeat yourself because there are still people who insist that this government wants to rewrite the Treaty or tear it up, and usually when people say this government, they mean Luxon, as in the pakeha guy. As in the pakeha guy who's Prime Minister.  He's not supporting it beyond the first reading.  

The Treaty has been put in the spotlight in its intent question by the two co leaders, who are Māori. So enough with this government, this pakeha guy, this Christopher Luxon. It’s Seymour and Peters, strongly supported by his best supporting actress Shane Jones, who are the ones who are bringing the Treaty into the spotlight.  

Seriously though, if people want to find offence, if they want to find outrage from both sides, from those who say, Oh my God, our whole future is under threat because it's called Waka Kotahi. No, it's not. You can call it whatever you like. Potato, potato. Transport agency. Waka Kotahi - fill your boots don't care.  

Those who say, oh, they're going to throw out the treaty and you know Māori are under attack, no they’re not. Nobody's going to throw the treaty. But if you want to take umbrage, fulminate, despair about the future of New Zealand/Aotearoa, depending on which flag you're waving, you do you.  

Whereas those of us who know how lucky we are will head for the beach or the lake, or the park or the forest, we'll enjoy a BBQ or a meal at home alongside our fellow New Zealanders of every hue and give thanks that all our ancestors, near or far, ended up in this beautiful country. 

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