How can you celebrate Waitangi from home?

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

The streets of Waitangi are empty as commemorations move off the Treaty grounds thanks to Covid-19.

But while taniwha burgers, live performances and big pōhiri won't be seen this weekend, the conversations about Te Tiriti and what it means are never silenced in Ngāti Kawa and Ngāti Rāhiri. 

Isaiah Apiata is a familiar face in Waitangi and he says, "Don't bother coming all the way to Waitangi to commemorate, do it at home."

And in the kāinga is where Te Tiriti should live, Apiata says, because honouring the treaty should happen every day. 

Organisers of the forum tent hosted by iwi kāinga at Te Tiriti o Waitangi marae have found a way to incorporate the spirit of the treaty online. 

Online event organiser Ngahuia Harawira says the platform is "a place to wānanga the Māori perspective against the backdrop of Te Tiriti o Waitangi." It also gives key figures the opportunity to speak directly to cabinet ministers on topics pertaining to Te Tiriti. 

At home and online

Cabinet minister Kiritapu Allan has been going to Waitangi for years and is ready and excited: "I know the people of the north will tell me clearly and squarely", she said. Allan isn't expecting anyone to go easy on them and welcomes the wero that the community leaders will lay before them. 

Te Ao Maori News asked these key figures for advice for families on how they can honour the treaty at home. 

Allan said, "Know the whenua on which you stand and the history of that whenua."

Apiata encourages whānau to go outside in the early morning and take time to think about their tūpuna "who sacrificed much for us all," he says. "it's a great week to research the treaty and where your whakapapa fits in it."

Harawira said people should take time to have real conversations with their family on what Te Tiriti means to them and what their role is in honouring it.

Former MP and a regular attendee at Waitangi, Shane Jones, echoed those sentiments and said coming together with family to talk about Te Tiriti is important for understanding and to ensure the essence of it isn't forgotten. 

Online panels and debates kick off today.