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Waitangi National Trust Amendment Bill First Reading Speech

Waitangi National Trust Amendment Bill First Reading Speech

“Waitangi is the birthplace of our Nation.
Waitangi is a place that belongs to all New Zealanders, Pākehā and Māori”

Incredibly, these words were spoken 80-years-ago by a British Lord – who’d been born the same year British troops invaded Waikato Tainui.

Lord Charles Bathurst Bledisloe, New Zealand’s fourth Governor General, was a visionary, a man whose thinking was years ahead of his time.

A man whose words of generosity matched his actions.

When public servant salaries were cut during the Great Depression, Lord Bledisloe insisted Government reduce his own salary by the same proportion. It meant he ended up using his own private income to carry out his duties and to leave an enduring mark upon New Zealand history.

In 1931, he donated the Bledisloe Cup to mark the annual rugby test between Australia and New Zealand: the Bledisloe remains physically, the largest cup in world rugby.

In 1933, after working alongside Sir Apirana Ngata, Lord Bledisloe donated the Ahuwhenua Māori Farmer of the Year Trophy – the Ahuwhenua remains New Zealand’s oldest, national farming competition.

However Lord Bledisloe’s most significant gift to the nation was made in 1932 when he used his own money and purchased the Waitangi estate from private vendors.
He then gifted all one thousand acres to the nation, and said:

“Waitangi is the birthplace of our Nation.
Waitangi is a place that belongs to all New Zealanders, Pākehā and Māori.”

More than eighty years later Lord Bledisloe’s words resound through the generations.
They are as relevant today as they were in 1932.

Mr Speaker, this bill is about nation building and it has been a great honour to have served as a member of the Waitangi National Trust. Those who have served before me include representatives of some of the forefathers of Aotearoa New Zealand: Hone Heke, Maihi Kawiti, Tamati Waka Nene, Pōmare, James Busby, Archdeacon Harry Williams, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Those of us who are privileged to serve on the trust today; we have very large shoes to fill.

This bill strengthens the existing Trust by making the Governor General its honorary patron.

It extends the membership with two additional Members of Parliament who are not members of Cabinet.

The Crown Representatives Group will provide for an enduring relationship between the Crown and the Waitangi National Trust. It will be made up of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Māori Affairs and the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Mr Speaker, this legislative “makeover” for the Waitangi National Trust is being matched on the ground with plans for a state of the art Waitangi Museum.
The plans are outstanding and in keeping with the trust’s vision for Waitangi to be a place for all new Zealanders.

A place central to our history as a nation.
A place central to our growth as a nation.
A place of honour, partnership, scholarship and courage.
A place all Kiwis want to visit at least once in their lifetime.

Mr Speaker, next year Aotearoa New Zealand turns 175-years-old.
This bill is about succession planning, future proofing our most significant national site.
The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi marked the birth of our nation.
The lands at Waitangi mark the birthplace of our nation.
The Treaty of Waitangi itself is the birth certificate of our nation.
I am pleased to stand in support of this Bill.

ENDS

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