Two remarkable speeches almost ignored

From Simon Wilson at The Spinoff:

PM Bill English gave two speeches on Waitangi Day. Both were remarkable. Both were almost entirely ignored

It’s good to see Wilson not ignoring them, but very poor of media generally – their obsession with trivia means they often miss important things.

The prime minister spent his first Waitangi Day in office not at the treaty grounds, but at Bastion Point, where Simon Wilson watched him give two of the most surprising Waitangi speeches in living memory.

Did you know Bill English used Waitangi Day to praise the great protest struggle of Bastion Point?

I didn’t know that until I saw Wilson’s article.

He made two speeches on the marae at Bastion Point that day, both of them in front of TV cameras and other media. Almost none of what he said got reported. Instead, there was a frenzy of excitement over his utterly inconsequential phone call with Donald Trump. But what the prime minister said on the marae at Bastion Point was extraordinary.

English chose not to go to Waitangi, preferring to attend a breakfast hosted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. When it came his turn to speak during the powhiri, which was held inside the wharenui, he began with a short mihi and then he said, “I want to tell you why I’ve come here, to this marae.”

He said it was because of what had been achieved by Ngāti Whātua and the manner of its achievement. He spoke directly to Joe Hawke, the much-loved Uncle Joe, the man who in 1976-78 led a 506-day protest “occupation” of the very land they were on that day.

He told them the modern history of Ngāti Whātua was a story of great success. And he wanted them to know he did not view the protest as an aberration in that story, but as a vital part of it. Later, over breakfast in the wharekai, he built on his theme.

There was a large audience – Ngāti Whātua, politicians, community representatives and media – and he said we are all engaged in a “great enterprise” of building a country based on “fairness, tolerance and respect”. Then he said, “We’ve all got better at it because of our struggles over the treaty.”

That’s true, but the general population has a way to go on this.

He said he knew what it cost the kaumātua who negotiated treaty settlements. At another iwi, one leader had told him he’d been unable to sleep the night before they signed. “He said he struggled with the burden of knowing he must say to his ancestors, ‘That’s enough.’ And he struggled with the responsibility of saying the same to his descendants.”

There are so many ways in which treaty settlements are different for Māori and Pākehā, and that’s one of them: Pākehā don’t think like that.

I don’t think Pākehā can think like that, but we can try to understand what it’ may be like. (See The soft and loud of “Pākehā” on ‘Pākehā’)

English also said, “Ngāti Whātua’s future is New Zealand’s future.” It wasn’t a mere platitude about diverse peoples coming together in national unity. He was pointing specifically to the economic and cultural importance of iwi to whole country.

“In the regions,” he said, “and I include Auckland in that, I would say that almost without exception the organisations that are most committed to development are the local iwi.”

That’s another remarkable thing for him to say. Iwi are economic powerhouses in the regions and major agents of social cohesion. Despite what Don Brash and his band of Hobson’s Pledge ostriches might want us to think, they’re not stripping the country of its assets and infrastructure – they’re building them.

“But,” English added, speaking not just of iwi but of the government and the country as a whole, “much as we have good intentions the truth is we have not met our aspirations.” He cited domestic violence, educational underachievement and the high rate of imprisonment: “These things are the signs of failure.”

Failures that are a complex mix of personal responsibilities, societal responsibilities and Government responsibilities.

Which is why, he said, Whānau Ora is important. Whānau Ora, which empowers iwi and smaller communities within them to develop services and direct them where they are needed most. Whānau Ora, said English, “represents the best and truest chance of the next 20 to 30 years”.

The takeaways were provocative. First, have we ever before had a National Party prime minister who speaks so unequivocally in support of Māori agency – and of Māori activism that lays the foundation for Māori agency?

Second, if the Bastion Point protest was historically invaluable, what does that say for other protest movements today – inside Māoridom and more widely?

Third, if English will say these things on the marae, will he say them in Parliament, and in the regions, to business groups and to his own party – will he say them to audiences who are not already primed to agree? He’s a diffident leader, a quiet explainer more than an engaging winner of hearts and minds, and he’s as liable as most politicians to duck the difficult issues when it’s hard to stand up for them.

Wilson closed by saying it is not the Prime Minister’s fault if important things he says are not given the media coverage they deserve. But it’s a shame. What English said on Waitangi Day deserves exposure – those of us who are not Maori can learn and understand more about treaty issues,and we can learn more about what English is prepared to speak about as our Prime Minister.

Waitangi Day

Waitangi was the first place inn which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, beginning on 6 February 1840. It took until September to complete the signing as the treaty was taken around the country. Over 500 Maori signed it – and just the one non-Maori, on behalf of the Queen of England.

However you do Waitangi Day have a good one.

Te Tii Marae trying to charge media

Is this another reason why Waitangi celebrations should be spread more around the country?

Newshub: Waitangi marae’s $10k coverage fee

Waitangi’s lower Te Tii Marae is seeking to charge media outlets up to $10,000 to film dignitaries and politicians arriving on Saturday and Sunday.

The marae’s communications liaison, known simply as ‘Tana’, says the tradition of media companies gifting a koha to the Marae has been scrapped, and replaced with a ‘coverage fee’.

The cheapest ‘coverage fee’ is $1200, which gives entry to journalists, photographers, and camera operators – but restricts them to two areas of the marae grounds.

The only other option is an ‘exclusive package’ costing $10,000 which gives access to all parts of the marae, including inside during speeches.

Newshub was offered the exclusive rights last night but declined.  It’s understood TVNZ was then approached, but also refused.

Media can be a pain, what they broadcast, print and post is selective and at times can misrepresent the overall situation, but charging them for coverage of New Zealand’s major annual celebration seems more than cheeky.

Another reason why Waitangi Day celebrations should not focus so much on one place.

Ngapuhi elder backs PM’s Waitangi decision

While there has been some criticism of Prime Minister Bill English’s decision not to attend the contentious part of the Waitangi celebrations there has also been a lot of support.

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua, on reviewing  an exchange of letters between English’s office and the Waitangi Marae Organising Committee, has switched to supporting English’s stance, saying he had egg on his face after his initial criticism.

NZ Herald: Ngapuhi elder now backs PM’s Waitangi no show: ‘I wouldn’t go either’

A Ngapuhi elder says he wants to apologise to Prime Minister Bill English for calling him a “spoilt child” for not attending Waitangi – saying he now backs English’s decision to stay away.

Kingi Taurua said since making his criticism of English he had seen a letter that was sent to the Prime Minister’s office by the Waitangi Marae Organising Committee.

That stated that during the pre-Waitangi Day powhiri it was preferred that English’s “Maori representatives” speak on his behalf. After the powhiri there would be another event where English and others could freely talk, including about political issues.

Taurua told the Herald that he had mistakenly believed that English had only been told he could not talk politics during the powhiri.

He now felt he had “egg on my face” after he called on English not to be “a spoilt child and run away”, and wanted to meet the Prime Minister on his return from an official visit to Europe to offer an apology.

“I wouldn’t go either. If I got that letter, telling me not to speak and to get somebody else to speak on my behalf, I wouldn’t go anywhere near the place.”

“I want these guys [on the organising committee] out. I want these young bucks to get out. I want now the elderly people to take control of Waitangi Day.

“I’m not happy at all. A lot of the tribe are not happy.”

Taurua said there would be a meeting at Waitangi today.

The letters are here: PM and Waitangi Marae

Also John Armstrong: The tiresome antics at Waitangi have undermined the power and symbolism of the occasion

Bill English has done the right thing in following John Key’s example and opting to maintain National’s prime ministerial boycott of national day commemorations at Waitangi.

That remains the case, despite English opening himself up to accusations that his refusal to front at the birthplace of the nation’s founding document, on the anniversary of its signing, amounts to both a serious dereliction of prime ministerial duty failure of leadership.

The new prime minister’s decision to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps, and stay away from Waitangi, is the right one not only for himself.

It is the right one for the National Party.

Of even more significance, it is more likely than not the right decision for the country.

The brutal truth is that while the Treaty’s influence has grown to the point where it is now cemented into New Zealand’s unwritten constitution, Waitangi Day is sinking under the weight of its conflicting roles.

Take Waitangi Day on tour?

While many people attending Waitangi Day celebrations think it is a great occasion much of the country sees it as a media circus giving a few Ngāpuhi activists some attention at the cost of political and national inclusiveness.

David Seymour has suggested a solution to the ongoing antics at Waitangi Day – move the celebrations around the country.

PM should take Waitangi Day ceremonies on tour

Te Tii Marae’s continued failure to respectfully host the Government on Waitangi Day should prompt the Prime Minister to visit a different marae each year, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The behaviour of a small group of perpetually-grumpy activists has turned Waitangi Day into an annual political circus, denying Kiwis a national day we can all enjoy,” says Mr Seymour.

“It’s never been clear why one iwi gets to monopolise the celebrations. The Treaty wasn’t just signed at Waitangi, it went on tour and was signed by chiefs all over the country.

“If an iwi is going to host representatives of the Crown to symbolise this 177-year-old relationship, why not rotate the host iwi and location? It could be in a different place each year, perhaps following the path that the Treaty took during 1840.

“Ngāpuhi activists have denied the whole country a proud national day a few times too many. Let’s take this show on the road. There were 20-odd signing locations so it’ll return to Te Tii Marae in around 2037.

“A bit of competition among locations might help to lift standards of behaviour, bringing some dignity and joy back to this special day.”

Today’s ODT editorial thinks that this has merit – from The importance of Waitangi Day:

Act New Zealand leader David Seymour suggested the continued failure by Ti Tii to respectfully host the Government on Waitangi Day should prompt the prime minister of the day to visit a different marae each year.

It has never been clear why one iwi – Ngapuhi – gets to monopolise the celebrations.

And that hasn’t been working out very well – it seems to have become more about them and less about the country.

The Treaty was not signed just at Waitangi; it went on tour and was signed by chiefs throughout the country. He suggests the celebration of the Treaty signing could follow the path the Treaty took in 1840.

Waitangi Day is quickly slipping from relevancy for many New Zealanders who are just looking forward to a day of holiday when, in fact, the Treaty is considered New Zealand’s founding document.

Those who attend the Waitangi Day events often say it is overall a very good occasion, if you ignore a few attention seekers and media obsessions and distractions.

But currently for me and I think for many others Waitangi Day is a contentious circus hijacked by a few activists.

If it was celebrated in different places more it may become a country focussed occasion rather than a local leer up.

Waitangi Day ‘cringe’

Bill English has not surprisingly provoked some comment when he rsaid “A lot of New Zealanders cringe a bit on Waitangi Day …”, but Waitangi Day ‘cringe’ comes from lack of understanding, Maori Party says

English has attracted controversy while defending his decision to skip Waitangi commemorations due to a lack of speaking rights, saying protests at Waitangi had been “nationally relevant” 15 to 20 years ago but were not anymore.

“Political discussion at Te Tii Marae is now really about Ngapuhi issues and their own concerns in Northland, but it’s a national day, a day for New Zealanders to be proud of their whole country.”

“A lot of New Zealanders cringe a bit on Waitangi Day when they see the way that the ceremonies are being conducted, the ceremonies and welcomes, the type of protest there has been in recent years, and I’m pretty keen that we have a day when they’re proud.”

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox…

…said English’s comments were “unfortunate” and did not match up with her perspective of the day’s importance.

“A lot of New Zealanders may feel that way, but that comes from a lack of understanding, a lack of education, and a lack of acceptance of the place of Maori in this country, so when that changes, we’ll all have a greater, united Aotearoa.”

Fox said she would have liked English to attend Waitangi commemorations, but his decision would not affect her plans to go.

“We are not the Maori arm of the National Party – we are going to attend as the Maori Party, and I will be taking my place in the powhiri, and I’m pretty sure nobody’s given me an opportunity to have a stage to speak, and I’m not concerned about that.”

Waitangi and Te Tii Marae were “surrounded in Maori protocol”, and it was up to marae leaders to decide whether someone could speak.

There are a number of protocols that I participate in at Parliament that I think are antiquated and should move on – those are my opinions. It is for Maori and the people of Te Tii, the people of Waitangi to decide how the programme should run – it’s their place.”

Fair enough, to an extent, about “Maori protocol” in a Maori forum, but if Waitangi Day is to ever become widely seen and felt to be a national day of significance then the commemorations need to involve and include both partners to the treaty, not just Maori.

Waitangi Day 2016

For what’s happening at Waitangi see 2016 Waitangi Day Celebrations.

There’s a lot of Waitangi Day related events around the country. You’ll have to check locally if you’re interested. There’s a few low key events planned for Dunedin.

NZ History has information on the past and present of Waitangi Day:

  1. Introduction

Waitangi Day is for whatever you want it to be. However you do it have a good one.

Plans for Waitangi Day

John Key doesn’t know what he will be doing on Waitangi Day. Newstalk ZB: Key’s Waitangi plans up in the air

John Key hasn’t decided what he will be doing on Waitangi day, now that he’s pulled out attending celebrations at Te Tii Marae.

The Prime Minister said he will be taking advice from his office about what to do on the day.

He said he’d like to go “somewhere where there is hopefully a festive atmosphere, where we can celebrate with other New Zealanders.

“I mean that’s what most other people will be doing on Waitangi day,” he said.

I doubt that’s what most New Zealanders do on Waitangi Day. Many will do what they would normally do on a Saturday. Some will be taking advantage of having a long weekend now public holidays are Mondayised.

Andrew Little will be at Te Tii Marae today but isn’t sure what he will be able to do. NZ Herald reports:

Mr Little said he could understand the frustration Mr Key felt about the changing rules, saying it would be difficult to speak on such a day without veering near politics.

The letter that set out the request not to discuss politics said the same rule would apply to other parties – a rule that was confirmed by marae trustee Emma Gibbs.

However, Mr Little said no such rule had been communicated to him. He would assess for himself what he could say after talking to the marae elders today.

Winston Peters was planning to be at Waitangi but I don’t know what sort of reception he will get after being highly critical of Ngāpuhi – see Wise words from Winston 0n Waitangi, and the Herald:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the Prime Minister’s non-attendance is highly regrettable for the north, for Ngapuhi, and for the country.

“I think Ngapuhi’s going to seriously regret the way it’s imaged itself, and its failure to make a stand on behalf of the protocols to the benefit of dialogue and discussion.”

“Really, when you are hosting a event for the nation in a specific place on the nation’s behalf, you’ve got to think bigger than yourselves.”

When hosting an annual national event, especially one that is the closest thing we have to being a national day, does have responsibilities to consider more than your own interests.

I don’t have to worry about that and can do whatever I want to. That will include my daily tasks here at Your NZ. I’ll also be interested in keeping an eye the cricket to see whether the Black Caps can back up their very good win over the Baggy Greens.

I also plan on attacking a pile of macrocarpa that needs to be cut to firewood and chipped.  I guess I’ll watch a bit of news too but that may depend on how interesting the cricket is.

What will you be doing on Waitangi Day?

 

A different side to Waitangi

I’ve been to Waitangi but never during Waitangi Day celebrations. Much of the media (and therefore national) attention is on a relatively small but vocal number of protesters and activists.

But I’ve heard reports over the years of a much better Waitangi event, one that unfortunately gets less attention.

Yesterday Pickled Possum commented:

Obviously you and some on this site have never been on a marae when there is a take/issue/topic of importance to the people in te Ao Maori laid down.

Maori treat their visitors with politeness generosity and kindness when you pass the marae atea, you are a welcomed special visitor.

I have been on marae in Northland and have experienced politeness, generosity, and kindness.

There is passion in debate but haranguing a welcomed guest I don’t think so. Waitangi day celebration is held at up North because that’s where the British wanted it signed.

How many of you have been to a Waitangi celebration, and have seen the celebration of Te Ao Maori there. There is a aura of peacefulness while celebrating song, art and crafts, food, healing, massage, medicine, dance, the language and of all things Maori.

The reason some NZ media are not allowed onto the Te Tii marae is because they write their own negative slant of what is the haps, like they do on anything/everything/most things.

That has become as big a part of the problems as the protesters they give oxygen to.

They are welcomed at Waitangi grounds to report on all the positiveness that takes place but there’s nothing shocking to report about hangi being the food of gods up here or how ta moko has significant meaning to the person who has it tattooed on their face chin body.

Maori TV is the only media that shows Waitangi in any real sense in NZ, but how many of you have even tuned into that channel?
Not many if any I would hazard a guess.

I watch Maori TV sometimes, they have some good content.

Waitang Day has always been the place for Maori from all around the motu to have their grievances heard, it is their right to be heard, it is supposed to be their safe place to be heard.

That it is a time and place to air grievances is part of the tradition of Waitangi, for better and worse.

Like your waislangy word pete inciting negative connotations is just the start.
In 2 days time people will be saying far worse things and they would all have been started by some stupid words like that, incited by ignorance to the meaning of Waitangi day.

Point taken, but I was airing a grievance that many people around New Zealand really feel over annual Waitangi protests.

And why target me when there are far more inciteful things being said by some Maori?

All forgotten on the 8th of Feb till next year.

People who have no knowledge, respect or love of things Maori should slow right down with all the negative rhetoric and blatant incitement of more disharmony between all NZers.

So where does this incitement begin each year?

Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson said at the signing of the treaty,
He iwi tahi tatou’ (We are [now] one people).

Tihei mauri ora – Let there be life!
Tihei mauri ora – Let there be life!
Ngä iwi o te motu e – To all the tribes of the land
Tü ake, karangatia – Stand forth and be welcomed
Tü ake, manaakitia – Stand forth and be hosted
Ngä iwi, kia ora rä – To all the tribes, greetings to you

It would be great if that was a focal point of Waitangi. But some Maori in Northland have not been in a welcoming mood, again.

On Tuesday, Northland iwi leaders met to discuss whether Mr Key would be blocked from the marae because of his handling of the TPP, which some Maori leaders have proposed.

A vote called for at the meeting meant leaders voting 38-14 in favour of stopping him from attending.

ODT – The road to Waitangi

That doesn’t sound welcoming.

There are problems from both sides of the Waitangi divide. Perhaps the tradition of airing grievances will always make Waitangi Day an expression of many emotions of ‘one people’.

Past Waitangi Day protests

A relatively small number of people get the biggest attention at Waitangi Day each year, working the media, overshadowing much of the events that are enjoyed by many, and riling much of the public.

This year TPPA protests are getting the attention, but every year political and social activists pick on whatever seems to be the protest of the time.

Protest is an annual event as much as celebrating the Treaty of Waitangi.

Here are some of the protests:

  • 2016 – anti-TPPA

The annual Waitangi Day hikoi hit Kaitaia yesterday with the message that protesters do not want the Government to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Meanwhile, a 200-strong hikoi protesting plans by Norwegian firm Statoil to explore for oil off Northland’s west coast arrived at Waitangi shortly after Mr Key’s welcome, waving flags, singing waiata and chanting, “Statoil go home”.

Among the first politicians to arrive at Te Tii Marae this morning was Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei. Mrs Turei was with the hikoi of about 70 protesters opposed to deep sea oil drilling and mining.

The Mana Party “Feed the Kids Bill” flag at the Anti-violence hikoi, Waitangi.

This was not the usual Waitangi hikoi focusing solely on Maori sovereignty. As had happened the day before when Prime Minister John Key was confronted at Te Tii Marae, yesterday’s protest focused on a raft of issues; to the fore, asset sales and the perceived breach of Waitangi Treaty obligations.

The Prime Minister’s visit yesterday was cut short as a handful of anti-mining protesters led by Wi Popata, who was convicted of assaulting Mr Key in 2009 with his brother John, drowned out speeches.

(Hone Harawira) supported the protesters’ rights to have their say, and said those in the public eye learned to deal with taunts, he said.

“Well, 30, 40 years ago we were doing the same thing from exactly the same place. It’s not like these people are doing anything new … It’s how they feel.

So to some Waitangi Day has a tradition expressing how they feel, which is being anti-something.

Prime Minister John Key will use his Waitangi Day address this morning to tackle extremists on both sides of the race relations divide, saying they cynically damage the goodwill needed to put an end to grievance in New Zealand.

But…

Mr Harawira took the chance to take a swipe at Mr Key for criticising his views on colonisation and his description of colonialists as “white motherf***ers”.

Not all have been angry and anti:

Organisers of a hikoi at Waitangi say their march is about letting Maori know their rights.

Up to 100 people marched peacefully to the flagpole on the upper marae on Friday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for the hikoi organisers says Maori need to know the 21-gun salute acknowledges the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over the Maori nation.

She says people need to stop being wooed by the words of politicians and start being true to themselves.

The spokeswoman says they were not there to cause trouble and simply wanted to spread the message of peace and love. She says it’s not in human nature to be killing and fighting each other.

So not all Waitangi Day protests are the same.

With the signing of the TPPA scheduled two days before Waitangi Day this year it gave the protest movement something topical and contentious to focus on.