Dame Susan Devoy: True NZ day of celebration

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If history repeats itself, the news media will cover very little about Waitangi Day beyond the the treaty grounds.

And given the recent announcements that the Government may restructure Te Puni Kokiri (the Maori Development Ministry) and are wanting to omit the Treaty of Waitangi clause from new legislation covering partial State asset sales, there is no doubt John Key and his cohorts will receive a hostile reception at Waitangi on Monday.

So what's new?

Waitangi Day was first celebrated in 1934. Since then it has been the focus of many protests by Maori in recent years.

The traditional debate at the meeting house is often disrupted and the flagpole attacked more than once.

Since the 1970s, the style and mood of the commemorations on Waitangi Day have been influenced by the increasing intense debate surrounding the place of the Treaty in modern New Zealand.

For those actually interested in the goings-on at Te Tii Marae, Waitangi Day serves as a barometer to measure the Treaty relationship between Maori and the Crown.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

The reality is that most New Zealanders either couldn't care less or are frustrated that what should be a day of national celebration is marred by political shenanigans.

Not much different from the political posturing at Ratana the previous week.

The saving grace is at least this year we do get a public holiday. Last year, we all felt cheated that Waitangi Day fell on a weekend and we were denied that.

So for most of us, it is an opportunity for a day at the beach, the good ol' Kiwi barbie in the summer sun with little reflection on the meaning of the day.

Waitangi has been hijacked and if it can never be really seen as a day of national celebration then perhaps the time has come to choose another true New Zealand day.

We only need to look across the Tasman to witness how Australians celebrate their day.

The police there say it is bigger than New Year's Eve but probably for all the wrong reasons.

They may be our arch-enemy on the sports field, but you do have to admire the way they celebrate their national day with a great showing of patriotism.

We deserve a day of true celebration and pride.

As a relatively young nation, we have so much to be proud of and the opportunity to be part of our own history.

We are a nation of many cultures and identities and this is not reflected on February 6.

We need a day that doesn't necessarily replace Waitangi Day but complements it.

That doesn't mean we lose sight of the significance and meaning of the Treaty but an opportunity to recognise that New Zealand is a multicultural society continuing to evolve as a nation of many people and not just Maori and Pakeha.

A recent poll showed more than 70 per cent of New Zealanders were in favour of a new holiday.

This would leave Waitangi Day to be the day that recognises the importance of Maori, but the door open for a day that we don't feel ashamed to be a New Zealander; a day where we don't only focus on the grievances of the past; a day that is positive and uplifting and, above all else, makes us feel good about ourselves. After all isn't that the real meaning of holiday?

- Bay of Plenty Times

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