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Waitangi Day

Issue date: 
Monday, 6 June 1983
The Hon Sir David Stuart Beattie, GCMG, GCVO, QSO, QC

E nga hau
E wha me
O tatou aitua maha
Tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Waitangi Day is here again and there are many things one can say, but I believe the occasion demands that we ponder a little on why it is we are here, and reflect on the Treaty in such a way that we might move into the future with the courage to help ourselves and contribute to the development of others in a positive way.

A fundamental issue which is important is that not only must we respect the views of those who agree with us and thing the same way as we do, but to allow others and respect for their views as well. To put it simply, there are those of us who believe that it is good and proper for us to be here today, and those who disagree and maintain that this particular celebration means very little. But in saying that, I believe in cogency of argument rather than the threat of force or actual force.

The Treaty, I am sure, was never meant to be taken as an exact rule of what should happen. There are many learned people who have studied the Treaty and the majority agree that the intent of the Treaty was to create a basis for two peoples to live and work together in harmony and to develop this nation into one of the best countries in the world. There has been very clear evidence over the years that in the main this has occurred.

The Treaty, and in particular 'Article Three', extends the opportunity to the Maori people to become part of then British Empire. It confirms the value of citizenship within the British Empire and the British Empire would benefit by having the Maori as part of its people.

One of our noted and distinguished Maori Elders, Sir Apirana Ngata, reflects the spirit of the Treaty when he quoted one of the local chiefs of this Northern area who said:-

"It is the shadow of the land which had been given to The Queen while the soil remains."

Sir Apirana then commented:

"These are very wise words; and old time saying. The saying of the elderly chief has combined the words of the First Article with those of the Second Article of the Treaty. It is the shadow, that is, the main authority covering the lands; it is the power to make laws; the power to say this group shall adjudicate that authority should see that the purchase is right, while that one leads the individual through the many intricacies of the law, that was the shadow ceded to the Queen by the First Article of the Treaty. As for the soil, it is yours; it is mine, inherited from our ancestors. It was the Second Article which firmly established this to the Maori people".

This particular quote is as valid today as it was in 1840, and if we are to take note of our ancestors, and in this present day enter into the spirit of the Treaty as they did at that time, then there is the opportunity to resolve many of our present-day issues.

It is interesting to note that Maori people in particular over the past five years, have responded to the two ideals of Tu Tangata - that is to stand tall - and of Kokiri, which affect their everyday lives. These are clearly values, which all New Zealanders can be part of, and we must strive to achieve this particular stance.

It is my view that it is community strength and the conviction to be responsible for ones destiny that will assist in the resolution of some difficulties we face as a result of our current economic climate.

An example where the spirit of the Treaty is alive is that Maori people, through the New Zealand Maori Council, have been invited by Government to participate and assist in the drafting of the new Bill of Maori Affairs. This provides the opportunity to incorporate the aspirations and the desires of Maori people to develop the basis for legislation that will enhance the management and custodianship of all their resources.

Finally, we have a very real obligation to the young people of this country to ensure that the way is well prepared for them to move into the future. So the real challenge is that we must work harder and we must co-operate as a nation if we are to maintain the very good standard of living which we all enjoy. This can be achieved if the spirit of the Treaty is honoured now as it was at the time it was signed.

Last updated: 
Friday, 9 January 2009

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