It is a big change for me to feel proud of our government's representatives on the day. I appreciated that enormously.
A word, too, for Mihingarangi Forbes, who spent her last day at RNZ helming the broadcast from Waitangi. It was great, engaging radio and it made me feel close to the events.
Nice to hear Chris Wikaira back at work behind the mic too!
Having a quiet drink with friends last night, we all remarked how the difference between this year and last year is a feeling of Hope. The Prime Minister's message at Waitangi felt like a description of a path to a better future. A path for everyone.
I'm pretty pleased with that idea.
As an aside, I was at Neil Oliver's talk at the Town Hall a few weeks back, cracked ribs and all. It was a largely grey-haired assembly - me included unfortunately - and you could feel a certain bristling in the air when he raised the issue of Maori land confiscations.
He paralleled them with the Highland confiscations - which occurred at much the same time - and the way in which those wounds remain raw, even for him, and how the memory is passed down the generations.
From where I was sitting it felt like quite a lightbulb moment for many present. Which was good and kind of sad at same time. It still takes a whiteman context.
Sure, she's set herself a high bar. Yet people are saying that like it's a bad thing.
The big promise she made, which can be easily kept, is that she'll be back again next year. So, the next 12 months will see some noses put out of joint, and some of those noses may rock up to Waitangi next year with placards. But I reckon you can bet she's still gonna turn up. And that's important.
Wahine toa, I reckon.
I wonder if people are getting just a mite carried away about this. It's not unprecedented for new Governments and PMs to be feted at Waitangi. If memory serves, John Key also got a very warm reception when he was first elected. As did Helen Clark 9 years before that. Maybe we should reserve judgement for a couple of years. I will be far more impressed if the PM gets the same sort of reception in, say, 2020.
I was personally really impressed by Peeni Henare talking to Mihingarangi Forbes on Morning Report, mentioning that he has three daughters, and that he hoped they would see this as the 'new normal'. Let's hope he's right.
As did Helen Clark
You mean, some time when Clark and Harawira were on speaking terms? I must have been on sick leave that day.
Yes, it's largely symbolic, but it's also about diplomacy. It's not the warm reception that's really significant. It's the warm and in-depth approach she made. In fact, she openly invited protest as symptomatic of a healthy society. Pretty different from former attempts.
You mean, some time when Clark and Harawira were on speaking terms? I must have been on sick leave that day.
Not really what I mean, although you're not the first to take it that way.
But some history is in order. Clark's unpleasant encounter with Titewhai Harawira was in 1998, before she was Prime Minister. 1999 was pretty bumpy too.
The first time she went to Waitangi as Prime Minister, in 2002, she was escorted on by Titewhai. They were definitely on speaking terms.
But I was really trying to make a non-partisan point: it's not just that National PMs couldn't have done quite what Ardern did, neither could the last Labour PM. She has some weaknesses – critics have endlessly pointed out that her one attempt at drafting a law wasn't very good – but she has an empathy that's part of her makeup as a leader.
Ah, you are right about Helen Clark in 1998. I should have checked. But still - just about every new PM right back to Lange (maybe not Jim Bolger) seems to be a generational change and a breath of fresh air, until they aren't any more and become just another politician. The odds of the current PM avoiding that career trajectory seem pretty low to me. Who was it who said that all political careers end in failure?
'Just enjoy the day' seems like an apt assessment to me, noting the contrast with how things are going in Australia - where discontentment with Australia Day being celebrated on the anniversary of Captain Cook's arrival/invasion - is getting larger (and more divisive) with every passing year.
I think Nick Russell is right, that there have been positive Waitangi Days in the past and they often coincide with the beginning of a government's term. Well done to Labour for managing this one particularly well. Having lots of Ngapuhi in the government undoubtedly made a difference and was critical in the move away from Te Tii , the single largest factor, I think, in the changing atmospherics. The progress of the Ngapuhi settlement will have a big impact on how future Waitangi Days turn out.
It was also effective of Labour to paint the Iwi Chairs Forum as the big bad business people and link them to the previous government. It plays to Labour's old time religion, is a convenient fairy tale and was accepted largely uncritically by commentators. The way they have painted this relationship is of course largely a fiction. The previous government had good relations with the ICF but this did not mean there was meeting of the minds between National and iwi. Both recognised the other was important and that following the settlement process a working relationship between the two is a fundamental fact of NZ's evolving constitutional arrangements, something Labour in opposition and in government appear to slight, possibly because of their embarrassment about their and National's respective records on settling treaty grievances. The connection between the ICF and the government - any government - is not about agreement or aligned political or commercial ideologies but a recognition that the Iwi Chairs' head the iwi organisations that are mandated by their members to speak on their behalf.
And the previous government's relationship with Maori was also much wider than its connection with the ICF, extending across the Maori world. Nor should the Iwi Chairs be portrayed as the Maori version of the top hatted capitalist grinding the faces of the poor into the dust. The Chairs represent the wider political, social and cultural nature of iwi and, as I noted above, are mandated by their members. They receive finding for their work from the wholly owned commercial entities that are almost always chaired and run by independent directors and managers. It would be as inaccurate to call the Chairs social or health workers because iwi organisations deliver a wide range of social and health services
Well done to Labour for their effective spin, but as we all know, while spin and reality may often overlap they are not usually identical. We should always test the connection between the two, and never be too gullible about the spin that represents one's own side in an argument.
One of the most significant things Jacinda said - in my opinion, and I can't remember how she phrased it - is that disagreement, protest and vigorous discussion is valuable and healthy, particularly on Waitangi Day. She and the government are not scared of it. She was also there for several days, listened and sought accountability. I think all those things signal a new approach. I don't recall any Prime Minister doing that since, perhaps, Kirk and Fraser.
noting the contrast with how things are going in Australia
Not least the recent "consultation" where the government asked aborigines what they wanted, after much deliberation the Uluru Declaration was produced... then the government spat in their faces.
One of the things that gets me through invasion day is the knowledge that Waitangi Day is coming up. Even when it was Key hiding from, well, everyone, that was still better than seeing some white dude strutting round boasting about how Australia was founded on genocide and we should celebrate that. Sorry to rant, but thinking about it just makes me sad and angry.
I think part of getting angry is because I'm a kiwi and that's what Maori do when people shit on them from a great height. The Australian shrug and move on thing is just perplexing, and celebrating criminality is weird (from Ned Kelly to Alan Bond and beyond).
I was really happy to see Ms Arden at Waitangi, and the BBQ thing was brilliant in so many ways, from the pragmatic "hospitality is providing food" to the symbolic "public servants serving the people". Thank you, Aotearoa.
I think Nick Russell is right, that there have been positive Waitangi Days in the past and they often coincide with the beginning of a government’s term. Well done to Labour for managing this one particularly well. Having lots of Ngapuhi in the government undoubtedly made a difference and was critical in the move away from Te Tii , the single largest factor, I think, in the changing atmospherics. The progress of the Ngapuhi settlement will have a big impact on how future Waitangi Days turn out.
Clark’s return was in 2002, the third year of the first term, and it went pretty well, even with Te Tii in play. Things deteriorated later, for obvious reasons, and Clark was jostled in 2004.
But I don’t think that moving away from Te Tii was the overwhelming reason Ardern had a good Waitangi. She’d been in the North for four days by yesterday, and that decision to spend time there was significant.
The big shift in sentiment away from the Māori Party was important too. A lot of people feel that the machinations of Tuku Morgan et al have damaged the mana of the Kingitanga in particular. Some of what Ardern said played into that feeling.
I do think it felt different this year though, perhaps in a way it hasn’t seemed to before. We’ll see.
"A lot of people feel that the machinations of Tuku Morgan et al have damaged the mana of the Kingitanga in particular."
That may be and would add to the tottering pile of things he and others acting in the King's name have done to damage the Kingitanga, but I doubt enough of the voters were aware of them to have had a material impact on the results in any of those seats.
But some history is in order.
The treatment of patients at Te Whare Paia metal health unit was truly sickening and Titewhai was not only in charge...she participated.
The jury also found Harawira guilty of a charge of threatening to kill. She was jailed for nine months.
The sentencing judge said that the five had carried out a "vicious and violent" attack on the patient and that the offences were "an arrogant and frightening abuse of authority and power".
He described Harawira's role as "outrageous".Imposing a longer prison sentence on Harawira, the judge told her "You were in a position of authority, you ought to have prevented what occurred."
At the time Helen Clark was Minister of Health and Harawira got her own back in 1997 when she made the then-Prime Minister cry by refusing to let her speak on the marae at Waitangi.
Would be reduced mana amongst actively-involved people at the events this week rather than the broader voting population, as you say.
The experience of the the Scottish crofters was reputedly why Fraser had a lot of sympathy for Maori land claims - at least in comparison to most other Pakeha politicians around that time.