Celebration and sadness are interwoven in the tapestry that makes up this little nation of ours.
Celebration of our language, te reo Māori, and sadness during the pre-dawn opening of Te Rau Aroha, the new museum dedicated to telling the story of Māori who fought, not only with the 28th Māori Battalion, but the many battles, wars over land, through to more recent conflicts such as Vietnam.
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On the language; only around 50,000 Māori are seen as fluent speakers but it felt as though everyone at Waitangi was playing their part. You could hear te reo singing out across the days. It seems more and more of us are making the effort.
On effort; hundreds turned out, berets on, medals pinned proudly on chests, many of our servicemen and women quietly waiting, pre-dawn on February 5 for the call of the tohunga to lead them into the new museum dedicated to the 28th Māori Battalion and the history of conflict abroad and, importantly, here on our shores.
Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene quoted Sir Apirana Ngata: "We will go to war with our Pākehā brethren and fight the good war, and hopefully Pākehā will see us as true citizens."
The facts are that, when they came home, many weren't allowed into the RSAs and some even had their land taken while they were overseas - land then balloted to the Pākehā soldiers upon their return.
Some went on to other conflicts and our armed forces are home to many of their descendants, Māori are proud of their association with our armed forces.
The days and nights at Waitangi were filled with celebrations and conversations, with us all engaging in the pains of our past and "where to from here?" Discussions.
Kelly-Anne Panapa: A question of culture and nationhood
In 2014, the Waitangi Tribunal found that "the rangatira who signed [the Māori version] of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in February 1840 did not cede their sovereignty to Britain. That is, they did not cede authority to make and enforce law over their people or their territories."
So what actually happened?
Te Tiriti was a "waka taparua" a doubled hulled canoe, with each party to the treaty sitting in their own "hull" of the waka. The British were being granted a sovereignty over their own people and the "tino rangatira" retained theirs. That is why Ngāpuhi do not wish to settle with the "Crown", however they wish to rebuild "rapprochement", the fractured relationships broken down since the signing of Te Tiriti, our combined nation's founding document.
Ngāpuhi will rightfully argue that the founding document of our nation was "He Wakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni" (signed at Waitangi on October 28, 1835), a Declaration of Independence and Nationhood, allowing us to trade internationally as an independent nation.
However, it is Te Tiriti that brings us together.
Two nations signed Te Tiriti, the evidence is there on the document. Following the articles of Te Tiriti and just above the names and signatures it states, "Ko Ngā Rangatira o Te Wakaminenga".
Te Whakaminenga, the collective rangatira, is the party that produced and hold the mana of He Wakaputanga, the declaration of independence.
It is Te Whakaminenga that holds the plans and the korero for te waka taparua, this wonderful doubled-hulled waka that is our nation.
So let us put aside the rhetoric and the wonderful breakfast dished up by the Government. Let's really engage. Kanohi ki te kanohi, eye to eye, face to face, sovereign to sovereign.
It is time to own our past, lay it down and, from it, build our future together. Let us sail our waka taparua out onto the oceans of the world and allow our mokopuna to sail it together into their future.
Ngā mihi ki a koutou.
• Danny Te Rakai Watson (Ngati Pakau, Waitaha, Ngāpuhi) is a veteran broadcaster on television and radio, including 15 years as afternoon host on Newstalk ZB.