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Scoop Opinion: Who Stole Waitangi Day?

New Zealand’s national holiday has proved something of a disappointment to Scoop. Upstaged by Prada, scuffles and confrontation at Waitangi, a beaming Titewhai. Meanwhile the Prime Minister dressed in black is talking about dumping the Queen in Akaroa with the king of Maori pomposity Tipene O’Regan. God forbid that he ever become our head of state.

Overall a general sense of flatness, and of precisely nothing achieved.

It is almost appropriate that the day not be celebrated with the customary day off.

So who stole Waitangi Day?

It certainly wasn’t Prada whose victory is plenty to celebrate for the home crowd and which was the highlight of the day. It seems almost appropriate that the Americas Cup should be out America’s grasp. New Zealanders will be far happier if the cup ends off heading to Italy rather than back to the US. Touch wood.

Titewhai Harawira is not to blame to my mind either.

She has enjoyed and prospered in the limelight the Prime Minister so generously placed her in when she blamed Titewhai for her decision not to go to Waitangi. That this was the precise opposite of what Ms Clark said she wanted to do – give Titewhai more publicity – is a result that contains an element of poetic irony.

The most revealing remark in the Prime Minister’s press conference to announce that she wasn’t going to Waitangi was when she said the, “easiest thing to have done” would have been to have to go to Waitangi on Titewhai’s terms. It would have been the easiest thing to do,and it in retrospect would have been the right thing to do.

Rather the Prime Minister told Nga Puhi they had “trouble in the family”. Big deal! What family hasn’t got some trouble? That is kind of the point of having a family, sharing trouble.

More importantly had Helen Clark used Waitangi Day to reconcile with Titewhai it would have been an example for others to follow. Instead today if anything has been a day of conflict.

The protestors who had the gall to mount a paramilitary raid on the flagpole at Waitangi can’t be blamed either. This is traditional behaviour.

The retentiveness of guarding the pole in the first place is most probably more to blame for the high cost the protest seems likely to incur with one protestor having been charged with aggravated assault.

So what about our new Prime Minister Helen Clark, did she steal Waitangi Day?

Well for start Helen was the only person who could have a Mondayised the holiday. And because she omitted to do so, I think she can clearly get the blame.

Her conduct today – and over the past few weeks as she went through the torment of deciding what to do have not mitigated her theft.

In fact, her telling us all how miserable she had been for the past six years at Waitangi on our National Day, appears to have rubbed off on the day itself.

Her comments on getting rid of our Queen do not help the purported spirit of reconciliation and togetherness with which she wanted to imbue the day.

A majority of Kiwis in numerous polls have shown an abiding affection for the Queen and the issue is by nature divisive. But then it got her the lead in the Sunday Star Times, even if Titewhai got the better photo.

Thank goodness Waitangi Day will be on a Tuesday next year.

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