A special Waitangi Day
People throughout Aotearoa joined together yesterday to mark the signing of our country’s foundation document and commemorate it in a variety of ways.
It was a particularly special Waitangi Day for me, my first as minister for the new Ma¯ori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti portfolio, with a new agency established to support the Crown in being a better Treaty partner.
For our Government, the lead-in to Waitangi Day began last Friday when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led a delegation of ministers and MPs to the Iwi Chairs’ Forum. It was a positive meeting, the PM reaffirming our promise to do things differently for Ma¯ori, talking about how our upcoming Wellbeing Budget will be a reflection of a Ma¯ori world view.
That afternoon, Nanaia Mahuta and I travelled across the ditch to join thousands of Kiwis living in Australia at Sydney’s Waitangi Festival on Saturday.
It was a wonderful event, and an opportunity for us to let everyone know more about the work our Government is doing and that they will always have a home in Aotearoa.
On Sunday I was back in Tai Tokerau with the Prime Minister at Otamatea Marae, in Kaipara, where two fantastic Provincial Growth Fund announcements were made — a $100 million investment to help unlock the economic potential of whenua Ma¯ori, and a $20.39m investment to strengthen the Kaipara’s transport infrastructure and food and horticulture sector.
Boosting regional development is a priority for us, so on Monday we travelled to Mangatoa Station, near Kaikohe, to announce a further PGF investment of up to $82.4m to support workers and employers in the regions, with Northland one of the regions targeted.
I’m excited by the huge potential of these announcements.
On Monday I also attended the investiture of esteemed kaumatua and master waka-builder Ta Hekenukumai Busby at Waitangi. It was a privilege to be there to honour this renowned leader.
This year we built on the success of Waitangi 2018. For me, dignity, respect and decorum are the key themes.
To show we are a united country we need to show that all of Parliament is doing things differently.
"For me, dignity, respect and decorum are the key themes. To show we are a united country we need to show that all of Parliament is doing things differently."
With that in mind, at this year’s government po¯whiri all political parties walked on together, with an equal number of speakers for each party, all MPs singing a waiata after speeches.
For the first time, earpieces for a simultaneous interpretation service were also provided, ensuring that as many people as possible were able to engage in this uniquely Aotearoa experience.
Waitangi Day is one day a year when all of us — Pa¯keha¯ and Ma¯ori — get the chance to reflect on who we are as a nation. Increasingly, I believe, we can do so with optimism about the future.
We should be positive about where we are going as a nation, as we increasingly give Te Tiriti its rightful and ongoing place in modern New Zealand.