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Waitangi Day should be a celebration

2 February 2005

Waitangi Day should be a celebration of Maori contribution

The Green Party is urging New Zealanders to mark Waitangi Day by celebrating the richness of the Maori contribution to New Zealand society, rather than allow politicians and parts of the media to sow the seeds of divisiveness.

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said: "The diversity of our Maori and Pakeha heritage and culture is a blessing to be celebrated, not a problem to be fixed.

"The freedom to be oneself and to have a secure sense of belonging is something that all human beings crave. We all need "sovereignty": the opportunity to decide how our lives and communities are conducted.

"Political and cultural self-determination and self-expression are democratic values which are a fundamental part of what it means it be a New Zealander, and Waitangi Day is a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on that."

Green Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei said that the divisions between Maori and Pakeha promoted by populist politicians and the conflict-addicted sections of the media were largely a mirage.

"None of what is important to us as a nation would be possible without the undeniable contribution Maori are making to contemporary Aotearoa," Mrs Turei said.

"We're asking everyone to take a look at the people around them - your friends and your family - and realise that the divisions so often talked about don't really exist. Maori and Pakeha are intrinsically connected in the same families and the same communities every day.

"The challenge is for that sense of partnership, which sees an open sharing and exchanging of perspectives and outlooks, to be replicated at a national level and to be reflected in our country's public policy."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Greens were reiterating the call they made last April for a national dialogue on how the Treaty can best be applied in 21st Century New Zealand.

"The Treaty is not just about settlements, but about building a long-term relationship. It is a national partnership which should allow both peoples of New Zealand, Maori and Pakeha, to have full cultural and political self-expression.

"A dialogue process would allow all New Zealanders the opportunity to meet in their communities to share ideas on the meaning of the Treaty in contemporary society."

ENDS

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