A spe­cial Wai­tangi Day

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

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.

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