February 13, 2015
13 FEBRUARY 2015
Prime Minister John Key dropped a bomb shell when he used his platform at Waitangi to address New Zealand’s role in the war on terrorism. There’s nothing wrong with Key defending our country’s stance. But bringing up the war in the Middle East on our National day when most are trying to forget about wars was a major blunder in my books. We as a nation are trying to forge a future for Maori and non-Maori and Waitangi Day is the time to talk about our own issues and aspirations.
Each year I travel to Waitangi and this year I was fortunate to facilitate a session for the New Zealand Maori Council where economist Gareth Morgan spoke, he gave an excellent presentation and provided robust discussion which was in contrast to Keys statements on the war in the Middle East
The Prime Minister, no matter who it is, will receive a proper welcome at Waitangi. Northland Maori have worked hard to ensure the office of the Prime Minister is honoured correctly. After a peaceful welcome on the marae, Maori leaders, as is our custom, always acknowledge those who have passed on. Respected elder Kingi Taurua said Maori suffered because of their service in fighting for "other people's sovereignty" over the decades. That appeared to give Key the green light to rant about the injustices people around the world face.
Sorry John, wrong place and wrong time. Hopefully the same won’t be repeated. But as with the Treaty, changes are happening right around the country as the nation buys in to this special day. While I travel to Waitangi I also support local communities finding ways of commemorating and celebrating the day and in this respect our Urban Maori Organisations are playing a major role
I attended the Waitangi@Waititi event on Waitangi Day and the Portage Crossing Waka Ama the day after and thoroughly enjoyed both. My mate JT’s mob at Waipareira pulled together a fantastic community event at Hoani Waititi Marae, as was shown by the big crowd who fronted with estimates of up to 15,000 in attendance. The kaupapa of the day was whanau and that was evident when I saw rival gangs all rocking out to the music of the Wailers.
The next day my organisation the Manukau Urban Maori Authority hosted the Portage Crossing Waka Ama event in Mangere Bridge. Like the previous day, we had a huge turnout with between 8 and 10,000 attending during the day.
What is very pleasing is Waitangi Day is not just a day off work for many New Zealanders now, it’s a time to celebrate our national identity and that’s thanks to the events like Waitangi@Waititi and the Portage Crossing we need more celebrations like them.
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