Raybon Kan: A group shrug for our national day

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Kiwis exercise their NZ-made right to utter ambivalence.
Because if you break down the actual word, Waitangi is a funeral. Photo / John Stone
Because if you break down the actual word, Waitangi is a funeral. Photo / John Stone

Happy Chinese New Year. Or as we say, Happy New Year.

And Happy Mondayised Waitangi Day.

Monday baby!

Now that's a country with some self-esteem. What day was the actual day? Saturday?!? Pfft. Saturday don't count, baby. Saturday's already a day off, baby. Tell you what, let's call it Monday. Keep the change. Let's get a bottle for the whole table. Oh yeah. Boom.

(Sorry, nobody says 'boom' on Waitangi Day. For the same reason nobody says 'boom' at the airport. Because of enormous social pressure not to express our emotions.)

Anyway, to crank New Zealand's excitement meter right up to 3 - ok, 2 and a bit - we got Monday off.

Waitangi Day was this year propelled into the future - nay, tossed forward, with a flick of the wrist, like an aerodynamic latex penis - by two entire days.

Monday became sacred.

Say what you like about Easter - (why's it a different day each year? wouldn't you remember an execution?) - it always drapes itself round a long weekend, with majesty and triumph, like a cape on the shoulders of James Brown.

And finally we've given ourselves the national self-esteem of a long weekend. Look at us! All grown up!

But we're not gonna get full of ourselves. Because if we have a national identity, not being full of ourselves is a religion.

When it comes to self-congratulation, we more resemble Janet Frame in headlights than Donald Trump being asked about his virtues. We don't do understatement - we do cover-up.

The Super Bowl gave a perfect contrast. This is a sport, remember, that no country but America plays. But their conviction that the solar system revolves around their 50 states is infectious to the point of globally colonising.

Beyonce does more celebrating in a song that apparently protests black people being shot, than New Zealand does on its national day. If Beyonce or Bruno Mars met New Zealanders on Waitangi Day, they'd wonder who died.

Which isn't entirely odd. Because if you break down the actual word, Waitangi is a funeral.

Tangi means a funeral, or to mourn. Wai is water. So Waitangi is like a funeral, with super-sized weeping. (Or a funeral underwater?)

Either way, Waitangi Day features a lot of breath-holding. Kinda fits the mood of our national day of ambivalence.

Beyonce does more celebrating in a song about black people being shot than New Zealanders ever do. Photo / AP
Beyonce does more celebrating in a song about black people being shot than New Zealanders ever do. Photo / AP

(But with Chinese New Year this week, I should probably put my hand up for my bros and argue that New Zealand should move beyond ambivalence, to a more inclusive, cosmopolitan and diverse multivalence. OK, tick.)

Our attitude to Waitangi Day is so sombre, it should be renamed Waitangi Awareness Day. Like Waitangi is this syndrome, with unpleasant symptoms that flare up every year.

Actually, on a tangent, can anyone who speaks te reo tell me if Tangiwai means the same as Waitangi? Same ingredients, same meal?

(Hardly wanting to give John Key any tips, but I thought his best out on Waitangi Day would've been to spend the day at Tangiwai and say it was an honest mistake.)

The Kiwi national sport is asking what it means to be a New Zealander. It's the perfect unwinnable question, designed to be eternal. Imagine if we took the lead from our 21st century colonisers, and cheered and lit fireworks for the sheer God-given luck of the New Zealand passport.

Can you imagine what Waitangi Day would be like if we celebrated the way Americans celebrate July 4? If Waitangi Day included fireworks? Yeah, nah.

Of course, for our national birthday, we got an extra present: our very own TPP.

In the afterglow of the signing (which you may have missed in the news, being distracted by the end of Kim Dotcom's serious one-day relationship) are you feeling richer?

High five, baby! Aren't you stoked that our GDP will go up by almost (in other words, less than, or in other words, NOT EVEN) 1 per cent? By 2030? 2030! That's like tomorrow baby!

The TPP is a winning lottery ticket, and we're so cool about it, we won't even take it down to the dairy for another 14 years!

Seriously though. One per cent? What if the exchange rate changes? Is 2 or 3 billion New Zealand pesos, sometime in the science-fiction future, that much to be excited about? We could probably increase our GDP by 1 per cent just by investing the Super Fund on certain overs of cricket.

Put it this way. If you said to Mark Zuckerberg, "Have I got a deal for you! For just the merest possibility of being sued by any number of verifiably evil corporations, in a vague tribunal made up of three of their mates, how would you like $2 billion in 15 years' time? Promise!"

Somehow I don't think he'd 'Like'. But hey: look at this pretty new flag!

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- NZ Herald

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