Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Waitangi Day - More Than A Day Off

Despite dozens of lessons about the Treaty of Waitangi throughout school, I woke up this morning feeling guilty I had forgotten so much about a historical moment of New Zealand's history. The Māori, and the British showing great mana. With some quick Googling and watching YouTube videos, I reminded myself of the key things that occurred on the 6th of February 1840, before Waitangi Day became a public holiday to commemorate the signing in 1960.
  • There were growing plans of British migrants to settle in New Zealand, acquiring land and setting up commercial operations
  • Violence and crime between the Māori and British became rife
  • Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson negotiated British sovereignty over New Zealand as a representative for the Queen, and set up a British colony
  • The Treaty was an agreement between the British Crown and Māori iwi (tribes) and hapu (subtribes), with a purpose to enable the British settlers and the Māori people to live together in New Zealand under a common set of laws or agreements
  • The Treaty was named after the location of signing, Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands 
    Image result for treaty of waitangi
Today's article in the New Zealand Herald What does Waitangi Day mean to you?, identified some scary statistics about inequity between Māori and non-Māori today, despite the Treaty. There continues to be differences in understanding, more than 2000 claims lodged by the tribunal and many settlements. This article really made me think about what Waitangi Day means to me, after reading others' thoughts. I was not surprised, but I was disappointed that many of the people in the article merely considered Waitangi as a day off in the sun, with no significance to our past. However, multiple expressed their frustrations about the ongoing discussions and debates about the Treaty.

Tonight I reflected and thought about where we are at now. We live in a multicultural community, and I wouldn't want it to be any different. Without this integral moment of history, it is unlikely we would have so much diversity in our country today. I feel sad for the Maori that their land became co-owned, but proud of the challenges and risks they took. We have a rich cultural background which should be celebrated, and a beautiful native language. Unfortunately though, the amount of people who can speak Te Reo is reducing rapidly, and I fear as a result, so is the Māori culture.

I am trying to include more Te Reo words and phrases into my classroom this year, to normalise the language. I would like to teach myself more about customs and practices, so that I can embed these into my teaching and learning also. I believe if we all contribute where and when we can to hold onto the Māori culture, irrespective of our background, then Waitangi Day will have greater significance, and our history will not be forgotten.

Today I started by wearing my taonga (greenstone from my previous school) at my new local moana!

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