David Seymour thinks Waitangi celebrations should move around the country rather than constantly be based at Waitangi.
But first a bit of history.
Like almost all Kiwis I have always avoided Waitangi on the big day. Images of protesters, crying prime ministers, and actual mud-slinging are enough to put most people off. If you’ve ever been in Sydney for Australia Day, you’ll know how much better our national day could be.
But Parliament obliges me to be here, so I’m writing this from an old Paihia motel (my parliamentary colleagues had booked out the Waitangi Copthorne, but that’s another story).
The trouble this time is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, or TPPA. People oppose it for the same reason people used to have mullets – fashion, not logic. Being of Ngāpuhi descent myself, it’s been a real struggle to understand why local Maori are protesting a trade agreement.
The fact is, many colonial-era Maori were very entrepreneurial, and took ready advantage of the more secure property rights provided by the Treaty – more secure than being invaded by nearby tribes as happened through the musket war period around 1820 to 1840. One of the many important rights the Treaty gave was access to sea lanes protected by the most powerful navy on the planet.
I’ve been reading Hazel Petrie’s Chiefs of Industry. It tells the story of colonial-era Maori such as Te Hemara Tauhia. In the 1850s he built a sawmill in the north and charged Pakeha to mill their timber.
Then he realised they were making money off the shipping so he commissioned a 20-tonne ship to move it, too. That guy would have favoured signing the TPPA.
He was not unusual. As another author summed up, colonial Maori “were able to leverage European technologies to build remarkable trading relationships around the world as well as forcing the world’s most powerful empire into a stalemate.”
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