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Waitangi Day challenged

Penguin Books (N.Z.) Limited

News Release
For immediate release
13 October 2003

Waitangi Day challenged

Waitangi Day is a poor choice for New Zealand’s national day, according to historian Michael King.

Speaking on the day of the launch of his new Penguin History of New Zealand, Dr King said that 6 February 1840 was not the day that New Zealand became an independent nation.

‘It was, instead, the day the country set out on the path of becoming a dependency of Great Britain. Why not celebrate instead the occasion that New Zealand opted for independence of Britain by ratifying the Statute of Westminster in Parliament on 25 November 1947? Or 14 July 1853, the day the country began to hold its first General Election?’

King said it was inevitable that Waitangi Day would always be an occasion for checking the scorecard on race relations and finding ourselves wanting. ‘It will forever be an invitation for disharmony, not a symbol of unity.

‘Shouldn’t we, instead, chose as our national day one in which the entire country can give wholehearted thanks for the circumstances that have brought us together as a nation and blessed us.’

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