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Governor-General of New Zealand – Waitangi Day Speech

Speech – Governor General

Tihe mauri ora! E te tini, e te mano, koutou katoa kua haere mai ki taku pwhiri ki te whakanui i te r tapu, mo Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare Kawana o Te Whanganui a Tara. Kia ora huihui tatou katoa.Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand
Waitangi Day Address

Government House
6 February 2015

Introduction and acknowledgements

Tihe mauri ora!
E te tini, e te mano,
koutou katoa kua haere mai
ki taku pōwhiri ki te whakanui
i te rā tapu, mo Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Nau mai, haere mai
ki te whare Kawana o
Te Whanganui a Tara.
Kia ora huihui tatou katoa.

To the many, many people – all of you who have come on my invitation to celebrate this sacred day for the Treaty of Waitangi – welcome to Government House Wellington. My greetings to all who are gathered here.

Thank you for coming from all points around New Zealand – and from overseas – to join Janine and me in commemorating the 175th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – the Treaty of Waitangi.

I extend a special welcome to our newest citizens from today’s citizenship ceremony here at Government House.

I want to begin by paying tribute to Lord Bledisloe, Governor-General of New Zealand from 1931 to 1935 – and in whose honour this reception is named.

Bledisloe formed a deep attachment to this country and encouraged New Zealanders to share his keen interest in our history. He recognized the significance of Te Tiriti as our founding document and the partnership it established between the Crown and Māori. He purchased James Busby’s house, where the Treaty was first signed – and then, in 1932, presented it along with 1000 acres of reserve land to the people of New Zealand.

Without his foresight and extraordinary act of generosity, the Treaty House would in all probability have disappeared and our tradition of annual Waitangi Day commemorations may not have eventuated.

Until the end of his days, Bledisloe regarded Waitangi as his spiritual home and his spirit certainly lives on in the legacy he left to the nation.

A 175th anniversary is a chance to take stock of where we have come to – and where we are going in the 25 years leading up to the bicentenary of the signing of the Treaty.

Looking back, we can see how much the relationship between the Treaty partners has evolved.

There is an expectation that they will act reasonably and in good faith – and that the Crown has a responsibility to actively protect Māori interests, work to remedy past grievances and make informed decisions on issues which affect Māori.

There’s been considerable progress in Treaty settlements. While it’s true to say that they can’t undo the wrongs committed in the past, the settlements have gone some way towards restoring an economic and cultural base for iwi. All New Zealanders benefit from this progress – as is implied in the whakatauki: Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi – with your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.

By the time of the bicentenary in 2040, I like to think that my mokopuna will live in a New Zealand where we can see the success of post-settlement enterprises reflected in equally impressive social and economic indicators.

2015 is notable for significant commemorations of events in our nation’s story: 150 years since the shift of the seat of government to Wellington, 100 years since the Gallipoli landings, and 50 years of self-governance for the Cook Islands. At such times we think about the impact of history, about our role in the world and what this nation stands for.

I also see these milestones of nationhood as opportunities to reflect on the responsibilities and obligations of citizenship – in addition to the rights and privileges that we all enjoy.

Honouring the Treaty will always be one of those responsibilities – by its very nature it must be part of an ongoing dialogue, facilitated by an informed citizenry. In a sense, I like to think that it makes every day Waitangi Day for New Zealanders.

We have made great progress in recent years in terms of public understanding of the Treaty, but we cannot be complacent. When a quarter of our people were born elsewhere, I acknowledge there are ongoing challenges in achieving such understanding. It remains a worthwhile goal for those who choose to live here, wherever they have come from.

We are fortunate to have such a vibrant mix of cultures taking their place in the sun on Waitangi Day. This confirms that Te Tiriti gives all of our citizens the right to call this beautiful country our home.

For some iwi, the Treaty of Waitangi commemorations will be observed at a later date, because the various copies of the Treaty took some months to reach different parts of the country – from Kaitaia to Rakiura – Stewart Island.

Just two days ago I was at the site where the largest gathering of Māori and Europeans came together for one of those occasions – Mangungu, in the Hokianga. Visiting the mission house and seeing the flotilla of waka and the table used for the signing brought home what a remarkable scene it must have been on 12 February 1840, when in the presence of several thousand onlookers, rangatira from the region signed the Treaty.[1]

This year I intend to visit other sites where rangatira – men and women – came together to debate what was being proposed to them, and where many of them made the decision to sign the Treaty.

Today, as we celebrate our good fortune to be citizens of this extraordinary and beautiful country, I encourage New Zealanders to visit some of those sites themselves, to immerse themselves in our history and to reflect on our collective responsibility to uphold the special compact that underpins our nationhood.

Again, welcome to you all. I am delighted we can host so many of you to celebrate this very special Waitangi Day. Please enjoy the hospitality of Government House.

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
[1] The commemorations traditionally held on the 12th of February in Mangungu recall the flotilla of waka and boats which arrived for the hui. Estimates vary on how many chiefs signed the Treaty at Mangungu – between 64 and 70.

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