Waitangi Day Downgrade Raises Fresh Questions
United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, says the Government's decision to no longer attend official celebrations at Waitangi on February 6th raises fresh questions about the future of Waitangi Day.
"Waitangi Day without the Crown at Waitangi is not Waitangi Day."
"It is truly bizarre to have a national day founded on celebrating a treaty signing, but for which the Government no longer sets aside any special funding for events at the Treaty Ground, that neither the Governor-General, the Prime Minister or any member of the Government will be attending," he says.
Mr Dunne unsuccessfully introduced legislation to Parliament earlier this year to rename Waitangi Day to prevent the national day continuing to be a day of dissent rather than a day to promote national unity.
He says the Government's decisions bring into question the whole future of Waitangi Day as a national day.
"I applaud the Government's decision to broaden the focus of Waitangi Day - that was the whole focus of my Bill earlier in the year - but they seem to be trying to have it both ways."
"The broader focus the Government is properly seeking inevitably turns the day into a more genuine national day, and raises again the issue of its name."
"The Government seems at last to have recognised that Norman Kirk was right after all when he said Waitangi Day was not just a day for Maori, or the people of the North, but for all New Zealanders, of whatever origin to celebrate the unique gift we possess by virtue of being New Zealanders."
"That is why he renamed the day New Zealand Day, a message that is more relevant than ever today," Mr Dunne says.