Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Where were the white faces?

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.


Jigsaw said...

Here is one person who switches off completely at the mention of that damned Treaty. I refuse to celebrate and indeed even acknowledge the day in any way. As far as I am concerned it is another day in my garden and I listened to music (on CD) and the BBC all day. The Treaty has become a whole industry designed to tell me that I am considered a second class citizen in my own country. Governments over the last 40 years or so have encouraged tribalism and pursured policies that can bring nothing but increasing division to our country. Nothing at all to celebrate!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Jigsaw.

Yes, we have a HUGE number of things to celebrate, but 6th Feb is **NOT** the day to celebrate them. The day has been irrevocably ruined - it has far too much negative baggage.

Waitangi Day MUST be scrapped. All of the brainless burbling about it being "a day for Pakeha/Maori" discussion" is just so much BULLSHIT.

As a "Pakeha" I **really do** wonder **why Hobson and co even bothered** with a Treaty, given the 170+ years of hatefulness that it has spawned.

Maybe the Brits should have done things the "Islamic way" or the "Spanish way"- coming in and ruthlessly and completely annihilating the locals.

SCRAP Waitangi Day, create a new REAL national day, and leave the Harawira clan to stage their theatrics in their own sandpit up north.

Anonymous said...

A "p.s." to my earlier comment.

You say, Karl, that "many Pakeha now switch off at the very mention of the Treaty."
This almost sounds as if you have only just noticed this. Is this true? If so, I am very surprised.

I am 51 years old, and I "switched off" from the Treaty at about the age of 8 or 9.
I kid you not, and I would suggest that I am in the vast majority in doing so.

I have had a ***GUTSFUL*** of having been made to feel like a Nazi by the Maori whiners - the Harawiras in particular.

Feb 6th is "damaged goods", Karl.
It is a dead duck, and a *waste of time* trying to make anything meaningful of the day. Energy should instead be put into creating a REAL national day. A day of **100% pride.**

The US can do it.
Australia can do it.
Many other countries can do it.
We should be able to do it as well.

Kiwiwit said...

I think most New Zealanders are biding their time. They are quietly watching the current Government make over $1Bn of secretive treaty settlements with the likes of the descendents of the genocidal Te Rauparaha, dismantle our democracy with so-called 'partnership' deals to control large swathes of our land and coastline, and attempt to entrench all of it with a constitutional convention that is unrepresentative and that is paying only lip-service to consultation.

You only need to read the comments above to see the depth of feeling amongst the silent majority in this country. The backlash when it comes will be like nothing this country has ever seen.

Karl du Fresne said...

I too deplore the annual circus at Waitangi and have said so many times over the past 20 years or so, but there’s no getting around the fact that our nationhood dates from February 6 1840. The problem is not so much the Treaty as the way it has been applied by idealistic but misguided politicians and exploited by opportunistic Maori interests – all of which is compounded by the unsustainable weight placed on it by activist judges.

Jigsaw said...

We haven't just allowed that to happen Karl-we have been powerless to stop it! NO government of any shade has EVER actually asked the general populace what they think about the whole treaty industry. We now have spectacle of the very person who helped Ngati Tahu negotiate their settlement(their 4th!)and the catch up clause that he inserted -and is now the minister who has paid it out to them and - surprise, it's not enough and they want to negotiate more and he is happy to do so. Are you surprised that people want another day? It is forever contaminated and saying it is the actual day is pointless. It simply doesn't matter-we have to find another day.

adamsmith1922 said...

February 6 a celebration of the dominance of the minority over the majority