Issue #938

LWB Issue 938

Respect and pride

by Scott Stevens

It wasn’t exactly a kiss-and-hug fest in Waitangi on Waitangi Day, but it also wasn’t the dildo-throwing confrontation many people expected either. Plenty of bickering and poor behaviour is par for the course however, and unfortunately that sort of thing is the Kiwi way in the modern age whenever the Treaty of Waitangi is mentioned. It’s more than a little bit sad in my opinion.

I often wonder, on our national day, what the Māori and British of 1840 would think of it all. Would the Māori think they got a “stink deal bro” for its people of the 21st Century or would those first British settlers be the ones living up to the “whinging pom” moniker.

We have it pretty sweet here in NZ, but the fixation on that poorly written and poorly translated document, is getting old, particularly I’m sure, for all those New Zealanders who do not have ancestral links to the 1840 signing of the Treaty. That is a heck of a lot of Kiwis excluded from the conversation. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the rough beginnings of our country. A rough history is the story of humankind the world over. With respect to those slaughtered in the name of someone else’s King, Queen, Chief, God or Messiah this land got off pretty lightly on a world scale. It’s absolutely critical we do not forget what shaped our country. However, eventually grievances are righted as best they can 184 years after the fact, and eventually we need to move forward and build a better future together. All of us.
New Zealand is a spectacular country with a rich history of human settlement. The length of your family history in NZ, Māori or Pakeha, is important there is no denying that. I’m proud to say the threads of my ancestry settled here five generations ago. However, all New Zealanders have the ability to add something of value to our country no matter what their ancestral background and how long their ties to this land.

To be called a Kiwi does not take some magic amount of time. It is as simple as showing some respect and pride, particularly in regard to the land, water and resources of this place. If you want to be a true Kiwi, then start thinking way beyond yourself and think of the legacy we are leaving for the next generation and the ones beyond that. This attitude is enshrined in the values, tikanga, of Māori as Tangata Whenua. That’s important for “new” New Zealanders to understand. The people are one with the land, hence the principle of kaitiakianga. Surely no true Kiwi could argue against that.

I would love to hear more about these sort of things as fundamental principles of NZ on Waitangi Day rather than what the latest academic boffin is bleating on about, and their interpretation of what a British scribe wrote, as an interpretation of what a Māori Chief said, 184 years ago.

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