Today is Waitangi Day, a day that means very little to many New Zealanders, despite it being touted for the last few decades as our 'national day'.
Last night on television a local commentator bewailed the fact that there were very few if any Kiwis of European stock (labeled 'Pakehas' in politically correct circles) showing up at the celebrations on a Northland marae.
National Days - The Good (left), The Bad and the Ugly (right)
I use the term 'celebration' advisedly as most of the media focus is on noisy protesters and mud slinging, both verbal and literal. In reality Waitangi Day means very little to many Kiwis and certainly doesn't feel like a National Day.
Compare this to the orchestrated celebration in Singapore where we had impressive displays of aerobatics for the country's jets, live concerts and huge firework displays.
New Zealand of course could never stage such displays, even if it wanted to, as a previous Labour Government kneecapped the fighting wing of our air force. We have no fighting jets.
A couple of retro-fitted and ancient Hercules aircraft lumbering past just wouldn't produce the same effect as the Singaporean strike force.
I know there may be some in Singapore who see their celebration as political posturing by the PAP but it is not a view I subscribe to. At least there is an attempt to pull all sections of the community together to celebrate the tangible benefits of nationhood.
If New Zealand truly wants a day that unites the population they need look no further than Anzac Day; a day when we remember those men and women who gave their lives during past wars.
At least the current New Zealand Prime Minister is trying to look forward and distancing himself from the 'grievance' industry that has grown up around land claims and Waitangi Day. John Key has a successful working relationship with the Maori party thanks largely to the intelligence and foresight of that party's leader, Peter Sharples.
So on this our 'national day' few of us will feel motivated to turn on the television and watch the goings on at Waitangi. There is far more interest in New Zealand's sterling performance in last night's Rugby Sevens in Wellington and for many of us, on the Chinese New Year celebration.
We are in the throws of Chinese New Year in Auckland and even our local libraries are getting involved with special programmes of workshops, demonstrations, music, dance and stories. Unfortunately my local Botany Library does not feature so we will need to go further afield to see what is on offer.
I have discovered that there is a Chinese Digital Community which contains historical and contemporary information about New Zealand's Chinese community.
This is an great development when one considers how mono-cultural New Zealand, was even two decades ago. Sure CNY doesn't have the 'punch' of a celebration in Asia but at least we are acknowledging the importance of other cultures in our society.
I feel a little sorry though for my Chinese fish and chip shop owner, Shirley, who has to remain open over the festival. Ever pragmatic, the local Chinese and new immigrants alike have determined to keep their businesses open in the search for profit!
Closing for a week as some coffee shop businesses did in Singapore is not an option, especially in these days of recession where everyone is feeling the pinch. Not everyone is happy with having to work through the holiday though and Chinese staff in the Auckland casino are reportedly very angry about having to do so.
There is concern expressed in some quarters about the rise of aged immigrants from mainland China who are coming to New Zealand.
According to the New Zealand Herald "New Zealand is becoming a popular destination for retiring Chinese, with more than 1200 over-50s relocating here in the past year and numbers rising fast".
This trend should come as no surprise, as most are joining their families who had already migrated here and it is the Chinese tradition to look after ageing parents.
The concern is that many of these senior citizens cannot speak English, do not work and could end up straining already stretched social services in this country.
"China accounted for more than one-third of residence approvals in the parent and sibling/adult stream ... up 16 per cent from the previous year."
I would have hoped that NZ immigration would have thought this policy through many years ago when the drive was on (and still is) to attract Chinese immigrants.
In the categories the government had hoped for (wealthy, skilled workers and students) the results have been far from satisfactory.
Two wealthy Chinese have been granted conditional residencies after investing more than $10 million each in "approved investments" and 43 others - more than from any other country - are waiting to be granted approval, or have received approval in principle to transfer more than $1.5 million each according to an earlier article in the Herald.
From my observations since our return from Singapore, it would appear there are more aged British migrating here than Chinese. One would have thought that they would place a similar strain on services?
A week ago many of the beach front properties there had been flooded by the combination of a large spring tide and the remnants of a tropical cyclone. There was little visible evidence of this damage remaining.
The park and beach was full of Pacific Island families enjoying themselves with BBQ's and vigorous touch rugby games.
Maraetai is a typical beach side town made up of baches and older weatherboard house with the usual sprinkling of general stores and fish and chip shops.
The New Zealand summer has been punctuated by strange weather patterns so people are making the most of the sunny days in what is turning out to be, a wet and windy summer.