Prophecy over policy the call at this year's Waitangi celebrations

By Tumamao Harawira

Ngāpuhi has once again welcomed the motu to Waitangi to celebrate the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The iwi reaffirmed its connection and commitment to upholding the articles of Te Tiriti.

Waitangi Day celebrations have been affected over the last couple of years due to Covid, and recent weather events have seen a smaller crowd descend upon Waitangi this year.

Ngāpuhi kaumatua Hirini Tau says with this being election year, the celebrations are more politically charged than usual.

On Sunday, parliamentarians were welcomed onto te whare rūnanga with each major political party given an opportunity to speak. Tau says Ngāpuhi was surprised by comments made by National leader Chris Luxon.

“Luxon made the comment that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is just paper. But if he wants to get the Ngāpuhi vote this year, he must correct his assertion that it is 'only paper'.

Pākehā attitudes changing

Tau says a recurring theme this year is the need to revive the words of the original signatories of the 1840 document.  

“Prophecy is better than politics because, with those prophetic words, we are able to understand and also implement the intentions of our tūpuna.”

This year also sees the return of waka pageantry and also the annual hikoi from Te Rerenga Wairua to Waitangi. 

Tau also says that Ngāpuhi is starting to see a clear shift in Pākehā attitudes to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“What I have seen this year is an openness on the part of Pākehā who have attended celebrations this year toward Te Tiriti. There seems to be an acceptance of what Māori have long maintained in regards to Te Tiriti.”

Waitangi Day waka flotilla begins proceedings.