Too much Waitangi in Waitangi Day

One of the major reasons why Waitangi Day is far from universally seen as a national day of commemoration or celebration is because it is so dominated by Waitangi. And because Waitangi is so dominated by one Maori tribe, Ngapuhi.

What is supposed to be the focal point of the Treaty of Waitangi events where most of our senior politicians attend but they are only there as the guests of and at the invitation of Ngapuhi – there was a report that organisers voted on whether John Key should be invited and he was close to being excluded.

Helen Clark was prominently insulted and upset in a visit to Waitangi in 1998 and visits by politicians have often been marked by controversy.

Politicians have often had a difficult time at Waitangi. In 1998 then opposition leader Helen Clark was brought to tears when Titewhai Harawira challenged a male elder for allowing Clark, a Pākehā, to speak on the marae when Māori women could not. In 2004, as prime minister, Clark was jostled, as was Prime Minister John Key in 2009. The ongoing protests have meant that politicians have often avoided attending Waitangi Day at Waitangi, with official government observances happening instead at the governor general’s residence in Wellington.

Waitangi Day protests

And this year history was made – Turei honoured to speak at Waitangi

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says it was “an honour and a little scary” to become the first woman political leader to speak at Waitangi.

Mrs Turei spoke during the powhiri for Labour and Green MPs at Te Tii Marae this afternoon.

The Treaty of Waitangi was supposed to enshrine a partnership between the Crown and all Maori.

Waitangi Day at Waitangi is a big and important event but is dictated and dominated too much by one Maori tribe for the event to be seen as an “all of us” New Zealand event.

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1 Comment

  1. Brown

     /  9th February 2014

    “…the first woman political leader to speak at Waitangi.”

    That’s the problem with Maori, they keep picking losers to lead them.


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