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Waitangi Day Rocks

Thurs 02 February 2006

Waitangi Day Rocks

Hone Harawira, Maori Party MP for Tai Tokerau "I agree with Dr Moon that very few people have a good understanding of the significance and purpose of Te Tiriti o Waitangi" said Hone Harawira, Maori Party MP for Tai Tokerau, and long-time Treaty activist,"but his suggestion that Waitangi Day has become 'little more than a parade for politicians and protestors', is at odds with reality." "Waitangi Day is commemorated all around the country in many forms, and at Waitangi it is the scene of a wide range of activities.

The welcoming of dignitaries and tribes from all around the country, the serious debate of issues, sports, music, the launching and paddling of waka taua and waka ama, arts and crafts, and the getting together of up to 30,000 people of all races and from all walks of life is something to be celebrated, not 'dismissed' as Dr Moon would suggest".

"On Saturday morning, people from throughout Tai Tokerau will be welcomed to Waitangi (9am) along with the Navy (at 11am), who I understand may be playing a formal role in activities on both the bottom and top marae. That hasn't happened in a while, so their presence will be interesting to say the least". "After lunch, the forum will look at whether the current Treaty settlement process works for Ngapuhi, and if not, whether there are other ways in which genuine Treaty grievances can be more positively dealt with than through cash and apologies. In the evening, the rangatahi take over the marquee and the marae and the beach camp will rock to music from a whole host of artists who have agreed to come up to support the kaupapa".

"At 9am on the Sunday, a full powhiri will be extended to other iwi from all around the country. That is also the time when those who have passed on over the last twelve months are remembered in a ceremony called 'kawe mate'. It is also the time when political parties have been invited to come on to the marae, so that they can join in the discussions and the activities of the day.

The topic at the forum will be "A National Maori General Assembly", and speakers have been invited from right throughout the country to give their views on a range of options that Maori might want to consider. The floor will be open for anyone to give their opinions as well, and the final summaries will be presented to the gathering on the marae the following day. And again, the marquee will be turned over to the youth for more music and merriment that evening".

"Waitangi Day itself will see a number of Pakeha and Maori from different communities and varied backgrounds present their views on the 'State of our Nation'. Hopefully, theirs will become the first in an annual series of speeches when people of different political and ethnic persuasions can review where our nation has come over the last twelve months, and where they think it might be headed over the next twelve months. For some time now, I have been calling for Waitangi to be the day on which we benchmark our progress as a nation, and hopefully 2006 will be the beginning of that journey".

"In fact, I hereby extend a public invitation for Dr Moon to present one of the State of the Nation addresses; for if we are to move forward then we must do so with a positive attitude, and a willingness to take the good with the bad". "I have been involved in helping to organise activities at Waitangi for many years, and I am again happy to support the Taumata Kaumatua o Ngapuhi in putting this programme together".

"To those who despair at where the country might be headed, I say pick up your chin, and let's get moving. It was right that Maori brought their Treaty grievances to Waitangi on Waitangi Day, for no other time in the calendar, and certainly no other place so clearly epitomises the sense of deceit and loss that Maori have felt. That will be the case as long as those grievances remain unresolved, and people are simply denying reality if they hope to make that feeling of betrayal disappear without a proper resolution process being put in place.

"But Waitangi is also the place from which we must begin to heal those wounds, and rebuild our lives. And Waitangi Day is the day we should all set aside to try to make that happen".

"I hope Helen Clark and Don Brash come. Nobody should have pretensions of power who cannot face the good times and the not-so-good times. The Maori Party will certainly be there, because we are committed to the advancement of Maori interests for the benefit of all who live in Aotearoa. I extend an open invitation to all my parliamentary colleagues to come and see what nation-building looks like".


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