Sunday, 6 February 2011

National Day - What National Day?

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.
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