David Shearer Backs Waitangi Day

According to a press release from his office:

Waitangi Day should be a time when we come together as a nation to celebrate our cultural diversity and everything that’s so great about New Zealand, says Labour Leader David Shearer.
“It’s a special day when we celebrate the birth of our nation. We should take the opportunity to appreciate all the things that make us unique – our clean, green environment, our relaxed way of life, our innovation and our creativity.
“Often we don’t realise how lucky we are until we are on our OE or travelling offshore on holiday,” David Shearer said. “We should use Waitangi Day as an opportunity to stop, join together with others in our community, and appreciate the country we live in.
“I’m proud of New Zealand. I’ve seen a lot of desperate countries in the world. We are one of the lucky ones and that’s something we should celebrate.
Ie: A bit of solidarity would be nice. 
I recently became an expat. I do indeed feel the urge to gather in honor of Waitangi Day with other expats and talk Neu Ziland together. But that is more because I like a good party with the people from my ‘hood, rather than any real belief that New Zealand is that great. 
New Zealand is okay. Currently I am finding America to be Great. So far, America seems like New Zealand in the 1980’s. The mood is buoyant and everyone is ‘”in it together”. 
Just after arriving in San Francisco one month ago, I stood in the massive Golden Gate Park and felt very protected. That whatever might be thrown at her shores, America’s traditions and culture as enshrined in the Constitution would withstand anything that was hurled at her from afar. A statue of the author of the “Star Spangled Banner”, stood there proudly; I felt more patriotic at that moment than any in NZ apart from a few tanked up moments during the Rugby World Cup. 
I can’t wait for the 4th of July. 
Before we left on our travels, I envisaged America to be bunker-like and impenetrable. That the nation that runs Guantanamo Bay would be militaristic and intolerant beyond redemption. That I would be marking time in America with five children without any sense of community and purpose; two of the values that are dear to me. Only the drive from SFX that first morning to central San Francisco, where we were housed for the1st month was like that. My tired, bloodshot and frightened eyes saw ghettoes everywhere and an alien stadium that housed some team called The Giants. It just felt wrong. Things changed once the jet lag passed and I got used to my brain screaming: “Something’s wrong Monique, magnetic North has been displaced. The  sun is wrong, wrong, wrong, start looking for a second moon Monique”!
My perceptions softened towards the positive over the following days. I very quickly became a regular at our local Safeway supermarket. I patronized Starbucks incessantly and found here to be the only that didn’t get my accent. I couldn’t order a latte, try as I might, but that was the only real incident. It’s amazing the quality of service you get when you gesture anyway.  I think some ‘bad’ New Zealand gestures mean something positive over here.
I have now been adopted by several locals of the opposite end of the spectrum to Blanket Man- bless his deceased oily loin cloth. These folks are friendly affable and more than willing to engage. A lot like the kiwi perception of people visiting the NZ shores, however that may be a misplaced sense of hospitality.
I do wonder how the Chinese within New Zealand are feeling right about now. And Muslims are currently a bit persona non grata because of the actions of a few, I understand. Over here in la la land it’s merely the 1% copping the flak. Culturally we’re all sitting pretty.   I’m not naive and I know that it isn’t all rosy here in America, and some of the local news has been unsettling. However the incidents are isolated and more to due to the scale of population than any particular nascent tension. 
I got acquainted with the ‘bad’ part of town one day after navigating by accident to McDonald’s Oakland. Even that was no worse than when I used to get off the bus for a stay in Otahuhu. Kind of comforting really. Wherever you go, there you are.

Shearer continues:“Protest around Waitangi Day has become a tradition. But I think focusing on grievance devalues the significance of the occasion. There’s certainly always more we can do to improve our relationships with each other. But let’s spend time looking forward, not backward.
“There are issues we all want to protest about, including the Government’s asset sale plan. Labour, along with most other Kiwis, is strongly opposed to that plan.
“But there are 364 other days when we can make our point,” David Shearer said. ”Let’s set aside our differences on Waitangi Day and celebrate being New Zealanders with joy and pride.”
Some would disagree. Waitangi Day as we know it has become a flashpoint for increasing tension. Not overt tension either. No-one I know is racist. Well, no-one I know of my generation is racist. But there is a underlying feeling in many circles that ‘someone else’ is getting a better deal than we are. This feeling coalesces at his time of the year for some. For others it is just another day off. Expect ructions this year, as I suspect Waitangi Day is to the Occupy movement, as white is to rice. Or wool is to sheep. 
Personally I believe Waitangi Day should just be about the celebration of Maoridom and Rangatiritanga. Good on Wellington City Council for flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag. However the reasoning that Celia Wade Brown has put up on her Facebook page is:
“If the Aussies can fly the Aboriginal flag on Australia Day, why wouldn’t we use this symbol”
Hmm I thought we were markedly more advanced than the Aussies when it came to inter-racial tension. Rather than looking to other nations we should be establishing unique traditions that befit a young country emerging from the chrysalis of Treaty Settlements. 
We should have a separate day of clebration for all of New Zealand, Maori, Pakeha, chinese, muslim etc et al.  
Let’s replace Queen’s Birthday (or, as I call it:The Peons Day off), with a day that is meaningful to all New Zealanders.  If this gives us some feeling of Nationalism and pride in being a New Zealander, then maybe then we could have a grown up discussion about becoming a republic. 
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