A new study drawing on the views of thousands of Kiwis has challenged the notion that Waitangi Day is divisive - and instead suggests most of us see it as a celebration of biculturalism.
The University of Auckland researchers behind it have also shared fascinating insights into how Pākehā and Māori view each other - and themselves.
Around the world, national holidays are seen as a time to celebrate national identity - but they can also symbolise devastating loss of land and culture, and colonisation, said the study's lead author, Correna Matika.
"People may not agree on how to observe Waitangi Day for a range of complex reasons, but differences in how we do - or do not - support it should be expected," she said.
Some challenged whether Te Tiriti o Waitangi should be celebrated in the first place, given its history of Government breaches, and others were unsure if it was still relevant to society.
"Some believe that Waitangi Day is a day that not all New Zealander's can celebrate - others see it simply as a day's holiday from work."
Research showed that New Zealand European/Pākehā perspectives, particularly, had been often shaped as controversial by one-sided media coverage that consistently excluded Māori views, she said.
"If the media's portrayal of conflict over Waitangi Day between Māori and Pākehā is inaccurate and left unchallenged, these depictions could encourage ethnocentrism - and reinforce the supposed divide between Māori and Pākehā."
Until now, however, there'd never been a large-scale study analysing the wider population's attitudes, to confirm whether such divides existed.
Matika and co-authors Associate Professor Carla Houkamau and Professor Chris Sibley drew on questionnaire responses from 12,390 New Zealand Europeans/Pākehā and 1928 Māori, as part of the long-running New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.
Over a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015, respondents were asked how strongly they opposed or supported Waitangi Day as a "national celebration of biculturalism", along with other questions.
The research team also used sophisticated models to tease out demographics and factors like gender, age, religion, employment, their domestic and socio-economic status, and their level of positive feelings or "warmth" towards either Māori or Pākehā.
Other specific views they canvassed included feelings of patriotism and about support "protest marches and public demonstrations supporting the rights of Māori", and singing the national anthem in both te reo Māori and English.
The researchers looked at "historic negation" - a person's belief that events of the past were are irrelevant today and that descendants shouldn't be held accountable for historical events.
They also examined "symbolic exclusion" - or beliefs that Māori culture should be recognised - or excluded from - New Zealand's national identity.
"By gaining a better understanding of New Zealanders' attitudes towards and around Waitangi Day, we find that Māori and Pākehā are not actually so divided at all," Matika said.
The results showed that 51 per cent supported Waitangi Day as a bicultural celebration, compared with 8 per cent who opposed.
Most Māori respondents - or 63 per cent - supported that idea and only 8 per cent opposed it. Similarly, there was support among 50 per cent of Pākehā, with 8 per cent against.
Matika said modelling showed Māori support came largely irrespective of their feelings toward Pākehā.
Rather, it was strongly linked with "increased warmth" towards their own "in-group".
"Thus, the current study provides robust evidence suggesting that Māori attitudes towards Waitangi Day as a bicultural celebration reflect positive feelings towards one's own group, rather than feelings, one way or the other, towards Pākehā," she said.
"A different pattern of results emerged for Pākehā, as those who were supportive of Waitangi Day reported positive feelings towards their out-group, Māori, and lower levels of warmth towards their in-group, Pākehā."
Further, the results suggested the salience of Waitangi Day had no influence on those other attitudes like patriotism, support for Māori rights protests, or how the national anthem should be sung.
Despite previous news coverage and editorials painting the event as contentious, this study shows this is not at all the case. This was the case when views were canvassed in the weeks around Waitangi Day itself.
"A big take-home is that, even though non-Māori media, politicians and opinion pieces may claim that Waitangi Day is divisive, results here suggest that Māori and Pākehā held relatively stable attitudes across a range of issues."
But that also raised new questions.
"If our attitudes do not change around this time, does that mean that Waitangi Day has no impact for New Zealanders?" she said.
"Or are our views towards certain socio-political issues stable, despite reporting them near our national day and despite what negative themes non-Māori media and commentators might endorse?
"Of course, this would require further study to understand the broad-ranging societal implications suggested by our results."
She said an update on media portrayals of Waitangi Day could also be due - especially in light of more recent positive coverage.