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Opinion: No more Waitangi Day bollocks

Friday 22 Jan 2016 12:40 p.m.

For many people, the events surrounding Waitangi Day are a chance to raise genuine historical grievances (3 News / Kim Choe)

For many people, the events surrounding Waitangi Day are a chance to raise genuine historical grievances (3 News / Kim Choe)

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Every year they mar our national day – the same bitter, angry voices, the same old complaints.

It’s not even February and they’ve already started: “Waitangi Day is a disgrace!”

A day hijacked by Maori protestors. A day off, rather than a day of celebration. A bullshit day.

I’m going to respond to those angry editorials and those ignorant rants with a big, fat yawn. Why?

Because I’ve already heard them all, and – speaking very generally, here - they’re utter bollocks.

“Why can’t we be more like Australia Day?” – are you kidding me?

A country renowned for its shabby treatment of indigenous people, immigrants, and asylum seekers alike? A country that had a White Australia policy that continued into the 1960s? A country that’s currently committing human rights abuses against New Zealanders? Would you like some race riots with your National Day?

“We’re all Kiwis!” – yeah, we are, but when you’re more likely to suffer negative health outcomes, the effects of poverty, and the wrath of the justice system simply by dint of your ancestry, then there’s clearly something wrong.

“It’s just the same trouble makers saying the same thing every year!” Hello irony. Seriously, get some new material, people.

I’ve had fiery arguments and rational discussions about this before with friends and family.

In the most recent one, the other person said, “This Treaty stuff’s been going on for years. I’m sick of it!”, and I responded by saying, “Yeah, well I’m sick of you”, before walking out of the room and going to bed.

How thin-skinned must you be to let someone else’s view of Waitangi Day dictate your own?

I’ve never spent Waitangi Day up in Waitangi, but friends and co-workers have – and they absolutely rave about it.

In the words of my colleague Duncan Garner, there are effectively two Waitangi Days – the day before, at Te Tii marae, is often when protests happen. The day itself, on the Waitangi grounds is “a beautiful, stunning celebration of who we are.”

For many people, the events surrounding Waitangi Day are a chance to raise genuine historical grievances, wrongs that need to be righted.

If you don’t want to pay attention to such protests, or hear about historical injustices, then don’t.

Do what we tell little children when another child is being annoying or disruptive – ignore them.

Don’t dare tell me you can’t enjoy Waitangi Day because of what someone else is doing.

Mark Waitangi Day your own way. There are literally hundreds of ways to do so, without stepping foot near anything controversial.

New Zealand has 14,000 kilometres of coastline. February has nice, warm weather – go to the beach.

Grab the family and a blanket and go watch Hollie Smith and the Black Seeds perform at Bastion Point.

Head along to Te Rā o Waitangi at Wellington’s Waitangi Park to enjoy some delicious food.

If I get the chance, I’ll head down to the nearest park for a picnic to play with my daughter in the sun.

Do whatever you want to do.  If someone wants to use our national day to protest about centuries of degradation, marginalisation and abuse, that’s entirely their right. If someone chooses not to listen to that protest, that too is their right.

But if, like every year, the same tired, old voices use Waitangi Day as a chance to complain and moan about how my day is being ruined by the actions of someone else, I’m going to take my own advice, and ignore them.

3 News

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