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Waitangi Day commemorated at Ōnuku Marae

Waitangi Day commemorations at Ōnuku Marae in Akaroa were centred on partnership and connection.

Large crowds were welcomed to Ōnuku Marae for the Ngāi Tahu Treaty Festival this morning, including Her Excellency, The Rt Hon. Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand, and Hon. Lianne Dalziel Mayor of Christchurch.

Ōnuku rūnanga hosts the Treaty Festival every third year. The marae holds historical significance because it was one of three places the Treaty was signed in 1840. More recently Ōnuku became the place where relationships were rekindled. It was here that Prime Minster Jenny Shipley, on behalf of the Crown, gave a formal apology, for historical breaches to the Treaty.

As part of the official proceedings, keynote speakers commemorated the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and what followed, while celebrating the achievements of Ngāi Tahu since settlement.

The Rt Hon. Dame Patsy Reddy said: “It [the settlement] was the beginning of a new era for Ngāi Tahu, with a new set of challenges, but also opportunities to build a sustainable future”.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai described in her speech the significance of the apology for Ngāi Tahu.

“It was more than an apology - it laid the foundation for a partnership moving forward. While settlement negotiations are a frustrating process, requiring immense compromise for iwi, it can be a process that also brings some healing for the generations of hurt and loss endured.”

Mrs Tumahai said it was important to acknowledge and breathe life into the principle of partnership enshrined in the Treaty.

Partnership and connection were further emphasised as the Christchurch City Council conducted its official citizenship ceremony for more than 50 new citizens at Ōnuku. New citizens experienced the manaakitanga, aroha and kai from Ōnuku rūnanga.

Mrs Tumahai said: “The fact that we are here today together to welcome new citizens to this country is a living example of one of the central tenets of Te Tiriti – enabling tangata whenua and tangata tiriti to live together in Aotearoa is something to celebrate.”

Ōnuku rūnanga Chair Riki Tainui said: “We are proud to have hosted the Governor-General, distinguished guests and our Ngāi Tahu whānau for such a historically significant event here at Ōnuku.”

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