Here in Aotearoa it is Waitangi Day. It is our national day, when we remember the Treaty signed between the British Crown and the Confederation of Tribes, a sovereign state recognised by the Crown. It was also signed by a number of chiefs around the country. The Treaty itself laid out how Europeans would be welcomed here, and what rights Maori would retain while granting governorship to the Crown (a sticky point that one. The Maori and English versions do not quite say the same thing.) It provided a good start, but once settler numbers were greater than Maori, it was ignored by those of European descent. Maori however continued to strive to have it adhered to. Since 1974 those grievances have been taken more seriously. For some this is a good thing. for others they wish Maori would go away, and we can go back to pretending we are all white again.
This morning I went to the dawn service/commemoration with Bonnie Hebenton. A good crowd was there by the end. A really inspiring speech by a young man from Tauranga Boys College. He reminded me that it is the Treaty that gives me the right to be here.This event is a collaboration between the local Councils and local iwi. While it is called a celebration, there are still some outstanding grievances that need resolving. Once that happens it can become a real celebration.
We then packed up our lunch and went to a Waitangi day celebration at Papamoa Beach. Well done Buddy Mikaere and Te Runanga O Ngaiterangi Iwi Trust and the Tauranga Maori Business Association for taking the initiative and making this happen. A really good event. A warm and welcoming Maori led event that portrays all that we could be if we just let each other live with integrity. It was nice being in an environment where te reo Moari was used so naturally, where Maori kaupapa was at the fore, and where people were able to chill and enjoy each other.