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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Waitangi Day and nation building

Norman Kirk at Waitangi, 1973
Kia ora and a happy Waitangi Day 2014. Like most Kiwis I'm enjoying the day off and spending a bit of time

As with previous years there was a few scuffles and protests at Waitangi itself, but all and all the atmosphere has been peaceful and respectful. Not that you'd see that from the news media, outside of Maori TV. There tends to be a lot of highlighting of the 'negatives' while brushing over the posititves.

Earlier in the week we had a great example of this: A pointless row broke out over whether protestors had jostled the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mataparae. This was apparently based on comments made by the Prime Minister John Key, who later pointed out that he was only going off what the media had told him (as it turns out, the truth was that there was a scuffle while Sir Jerry was in Te Ti Marae, but there was never any risk to him. Once again, a small incident was blown out of proportion.

But there is also wider celebrations going on around the country. There's plenty of positive examples - Ngati Whatua in Auckland holding a celebration at Bastion Point, which was once a major flashpoint and site of a prolonged land occupation. That's how far we've come.

There's still a long way to go though. I'm happy to put partisanship aside and say that Labour's re-discovery of Norman Kirk (above) and his legacy is a welcome development. Kirk's nation building was his most significant legacy - he really created the modern Waitangi Day. I hope everyone can capture that spirit for the 175th anniversary of our nation's foundation.