Monday, 6 February 2017

How come nobody ever says “Happy Waitangi Day”?


We say Merry Christmas; we wish a Happy New Year; we might even wish our friends “a great long weekend.” I’ve heard friends say things like “Happy Australia Day!” and “Happy 4th of July!” So how come nobody ever says “Happy Waitangi Day”?

You’d think we would. There are many worse places on the planet to to wake up, and few better. And the symbol this day commemorates, the only day we actually do celebrate the birth of this great little country, played some part in its creation.

It ended slavery and cannibalism.

It put a stop (for a time) to never-ending inter-tribal warfare.

It brought liberty, peace and rule of law – and not the French absolutist law that might have arrived here, but British common law and the protection of property rights it promised, and often (at one time) delivered.

Sure, the missionaries of the Aborigines’ Protection Society (Reverend Montague Hawtrey prominent in their number) altruistically thought that Maori, already demonstrating their abundant entrepreneurial acumen, needed to be “saved from the impact of commerce.” Hence we saw in the Treaty we commemorate today a  nannying clause barring land sales except through the agency of the Crown --- the cause of many a problem up to this day.

And those same meddlers also wanted the British class system exported here, and so (conscious that the American and Australian frontiers had liberated non-aristocratic lives), wanted to limit the land available to emigrating labourers here by opposing individual Maori title, and encouraging instead the retention of collective tribal ownership and “aristocratic” tribal leaders. The reason, said Hawtrey, was that there had to be “a class of persons in the island, who, by common consent and prescriptive right hold a position of eminence above the others.”

To reverse Thomas Jefferson’s famous maxim, through the influence of the likes of Hawtrey’s Society, they sought through these two means (and the inculcation of Christian mysticism) to create a mass of native-kind born with saddles on their backs, with a favoured few booted and spurred to ride them legitimately, by the grace of this new Treaty.

It was a poison (still with us) that undercut much of the good the Treaty was otherwise to do.



  1. PC what you outline is correct but, for most Kiwis like me, you have "over-thought" it. Most of us are bored or amused by the annual scrapping and bum-showing so that only activists of any stripe really care. We are not nationalistic, don't fly flags, don't like drama or give a toss unless a PM pulls pony-tails. It's a public holiday on a not summer's day, perfect for the beach and bbq. But mostly, imho, Kiwis are embarrassed by public shows of "hand on heart" emotion that our American friends are so used to. Except of course for All Black test games. Fair enough.

  2. When people like Mara pay for the air she breathes and the water she drinks, to some self appointed tribal chief, and Co-Governance supported by a treasonous 5th National Government then maybe she will wake up. Happy days for apathetics.


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