This afternoon my wife and I wandered around the local Waitangi Day celebrations at Masterton's Henley Lake. The turnout wasn't exactly overwhelming, probably because the weather was overcast and cool. But even more disappointing was that the crowd, if it could be called that, was probably 90 percent Maori.
This suggests that the local Pakeha population (yep, I'm one of those who, according to this poll, don't mind the term) doesn't consider Waitangi Day "their" celebration. This is disconcerting because despite the friction and acrimony of the past few decades, we still have plenty to celebrate.
By world standards we are an exceptionally harmonious, integrated society. The factors that unite us are still far greater than those that divide us - although given present trends, I sometimes wonder how much longer we'll be able to say that. We are also privileged to live in one of the world's most civilised, humane, liberal democracies.
Notwithstanding all the arguments about the status of the Treaty, it seems to me that if we're going to choose any day on which to celebrate our nationhood, it should logically be February 6. And we should be observing it together, Maori and Pakeha.
But I can't help wondering if one consequence of the annual unpleasantness at the Treaty grounds, and the increasing tendency to treat Maori and Pakeha interests as separate and even inimical, is that many Pakeha now switch off at the very mention of the Treaty, regarding it as a symbol of division rather than of unity. That might explain why there were so few white faces at Henley Lake today.