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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Waitangi at 175

Another Waitangi Day has been and gone. Only this one was a special date - 175 years since the signing of the Treaty. That it was relatively low-key to me is a tragedy for our country. When I took a look at official state commemorations, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has a fairly low-key website for its Waitangi Day Fund with a familiar logo from the 1990s. Northland's local paper, The Northern Advocate, noted how low-key things were.

This contrasts with the festivals and fetes around the country. Jen and I went to the Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei festival at Bastion Point, which is a terrific family event. The great thing is that such a festival would've been unthinkable in the 70s - Bastion Point was a protracted land occupation from the time that has now been settled, to the betterment not just of Ngāti Whātua but to Auckland's wider community.

Helen Clark's shunning of commemorations at Waitangi when she was Prime Minister didn't help. It's to John Key's credit that he has attended the commemorations at Waitangi since becoming Prime Minister. But to be fair to Helen Clark, she did inch things forward by awarding some Order of New Zealand honours on the day - something we should make permanent, abolishing the Queen's Birthday Honours.