Something has changed at Waitangi. It was the headline two years ago: new forms to the commemoration, a new Government and a new prime minister.
Jacinda Ardern was intent on reducing poverty, reaching across the race divide and, very clearly, restoring the Government's commitment to the abandoned art of oratory. Not that it had ever been abandoned by Māori.
I'll come back and you must hold me to account, she said. She also said, the Government can't do it alone. We must do it together.
This year, she repeated the call, accounted for the good she said they had done and acknowledged "there is more mahi to do". There sure is.
But things have changed at Waitangi, for the better. The pleasure on people's faces – all kinds of people – is palpable.
It's not that race relations, poverty and inequality have been consigned to history. Nor that everything is now sweetness and light. Passions still run high, some higher than ever.
But a space for reflection has been created and, in that space, it's become clear the loudest people are not always the most passionate people, and anger isn't the only passion. The sense of respect is strong, the sense of discourse too. Nothing much gets thrown.
If you could get everyone to visit, or if you could bottle the spirit of Waitangi and put it in every town's water supply, we'd be such a richer country.
Change came to Waitangi after Sonny Tau's departure as Ngapuhi chair. His successor, Mere Mangu, forced her way on to the paepae to speak in the powhiri for political leaders on Tuesday, and again, in the dawn service on Waitangi Day, she added herself to the speaking list.
Waitangi Day is our national day, but in Te Tai Tokerau it's a Ngāpuhi thing. The largest iwi in the land, it's so clear they mourn the absence of a Treaty settlement. They seethe and rage and conspire and implore about it too.
Simon Wilson: Andrew Little steals the show at Waitangi
Andrew Little, now known to some as Anaru Iti, took a decisive step to show willing on that, speaking for the Government on Tuesday entirely in te reo. He walked over the bridge to Te Ao Māori, as the PM put it, and they embraced him for it.
There is still protest. Perhaps more than ever. Ihumātao was remembered, first in Panguru in the Far North on Monday, at the unveiling of the new statue of Dame Whina Cooper. Ihumātao leader Pania Newton led her hikoi to the marae at the same time as Ardern led her party on, and it was, reportedly, awkward.
But the Ihumātao protesters remain committed to the resolution process, they've put their faith in it, and that seems new too.
They came to Waitangi, unfurled their flags and banners outside the Whare Rūnanga – an extraordinary thing – made speeches and then marched off. They await an announcement.
It seems promised, but it hasn't happened. If this turns out to be another case of NZ First sabotaging Government commitments, stand by for unbridled fury.
There's been protest over Whānau Ora and Oranga Tamariki, too, and between them their record poses a more serious challenge to the Government's goodwill than anything they have seen to date. Things are decidedly not all sweetness and light. That was front and centre at the Iwi Leaders Forum on Wednesday.
Then there's Brian Tamaki. He said in the interdenominational church service what many have said: deprivation and dispossession are running high and "the system", as he put it, is designed to keep it that way.
But he made his case with such cartoonish absolutism. "Māori can't buy anything in this country", and the Government is "selling everything to foreign investors". China is taking over the world – I've exaggerated that last one, but only very slightly. He blamed Māori MPs, the PM, the Government and its officials.
Playbook populism: rage against the powerful, invoke legitimate grievances, claim the system and everyone working in it is against you, exaggerate at every turn but say nothing about what you will do. Except this: "We need a movement."
In fact, there is already a movement. Ihumātao is part of it, and so are trade unions fighting for better wages and conditions, and the #MeToo movement, and the ever-growing campaign against domestic violence, and so much more.
But for all his rhetoric about inequality, Tamaki doesn't want to join the progressive movement. He wants everyone else to join him.
As for the "Wellington bureaucrats", he said we should "drain the swamp". Thank you Mr Trump, we got the message.
National leader Simon Bridges also went down the protest road, choosing to trample on protocol with a crude political speech and then by just leaving town. He was missed at the opening of Te Rau Aroha, the museum dedicated to Māori in war, and teased in his absence at the dawn service by the Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau, Kiitohi Piikaahu.
Bridges seems not to have noticed that Waitangi has changed. Does he imagine that rudeness on the Treaty Grounds appeals to "middle New Zealand"? That's got to be a major misreading.
As for Jacinda Ardern, she's a "wahine toa" now, anointed with the term at Panguru. A woman warrior, as Whina Cooper was, as Pania Newton is too. Potential for both conflict and great progress is built into that.
What's really changed at Waitangi? With a few exceptions (see Tamaki and Bridges, above), almost everyone buys into the mix. David Seymour called it a unique combination of celebration and conversation, and that seems right.
The issues that galvanised generations of protesters haven't gone away. They're officially centre stage now, and that was hard fought for. It doesn't mean the path from here is obvious or easy. It will never be easy.
But that's what Waitangi has become: a day, a week, in which we can be our best selves, fortifying ourselves for the next year, the next stage of the journey.