February 6th is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. Waitangi Day commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti), back in 1840 between the Māori and the British Crown.
The Treaty gave the Māori full authority over their land, autonomy and the active protection of the crown but also gave Pākehā (non-Māori) the right to settle in NZ. So the Treaty is very much a foundational document for both partners and as important today as when it was signed.
Unfortunately the years since 1840 have been a horror show for the most part with the Māori being subjugated, discriminated against and beaten down at every turn, much like every other indigenous culture who were unfortunate enough to come up against European settlement. In New Zealand though there’s still hope as unlike most other places, there is considerable progress being made towards biculturalism.
Education in New Zealand for example, has changed dramatically in just the past 20 years and the younger generation seem like they will be much better prepared to meet our obligations to Te Tiriti in the future.
Given that Te Tiriti guarantees the protection of Māori taonga (treasures) including the language here’s a small part of a recreation of the signing, in Māori (with subtitles). I do love the sound of the language — hope you do too!
There’s a quote I like:
“Ka mua, ka muri” — looking back in order to move forward.
A useful perspective to remember as New Zealand gradually writes its own bicultural future.
Happy Waitangi Day!