New Year honours should be scrapped and replaced with Waitangi Day ones, Labour leader David Shearer says.
He wants New Zealanders to make more of a celebration of Waitangi Day – our national day.
“We should celebrate it properly. All over the world, countries celebrate their national day. Surely we have as much – or more – to celebrate as they do.”
Mr Shearer wanted to hear more people saying “Happy Waitangi Day”.
Yeah, like that is going to happen.
Don’t get me wrong. It would be wonderful if it could or did. It would also be wonderful to have rainbows appear in the sky without rain.
There’s a difference between optimism and naivety.
Too often Waitangi Day was defined by conflict and Mr Shearer said he was tired of it.
“While there are legitimate issues to debate for Maori and Pakeha alike, Waitangi Day should be the day where we focus on what we have to celebrate as a country.”
I just do not believe it will ever happen. Waitangi Day is always going to be a focus on the Treaty of Waitangi, and the differing views on that. It is not a unifying document like the US Declaration of Independence. This is because unlike the latter which is aspirational, the former is a major part of politics and law – which means almost by definition it is not unifying.
This is backed up by the UMR poll showing only 23% believe the Crown and Maori relationship is healthy.
I believe we should keep Waitangi Day and it remains a day to both celebrate the Treaty which is the founding document of New Zealand, and to debate the role of the Treaty in life today. So I do not advocate scrapping Waitangi Day, or turning it back into New Zealand Day.
What I do advocate is that we establish a separate New Zealand Day. This should be a day to unashamedly celebrate the wonderful country we all live in, our many achievements, ourselves. It should be the equivalent of US Independence Day, Australia Day or French Bastille Day – a day of fun and joy. There are 364 other days to focus on what divides us – but I want one day to focus on what unites us. And that day will never ever ever be Waitangi Day. It hasn’t been for the last 40 years, and it never will be.
So what day could we pick for a New Zealand Day? Possibilities are:
- Passing of NZ Constitution Act 30 June (1852)
- Dominion Day 26 September (1907)
- Balfour Declaration 15 November (1926)
- Day we adopted the Statute of Westminster 25 November (1947)
- Full constitutional independence 10 December (1947)