Sunday, February 06, 2005

It was Waitangi Day yesterday

Waitangi day came and went yesterday, but as a national holiday here in NZ its positivity seems to be increasing. With the mainstream acceptance of Maori culture, it has started to symbolise the elimination of racism and the acceptance of a national identity.

The relevance of this holiday is that a treaty was signed between Maori and the British Crown in 1840, giving the British sovereignty and recognising Maori land rights, thus establishing NZ as a proper nation. The problem was that the English translation of the text varied from the Maori version, and along with departures from the treaty itself by the NZ government, it sowed the seeds of conflict between the two cultures. The result was the establishment of a tribunal which gave a forum for resolving treaty violations and offering compensation to the Tangata Whenua (People of the Land - i.e. Maori). So far, hundreds of millions of dollars has been paid out to various tribes throughout the country.

For a more in depth understanding of the treaty and the issues surrounding it, this website is worth a view.

As a foreigner I've tended to overlook these things as quaint aspects of the place I live, but the significance for NZ shouldn't be underestimated, thus my token gesture to at least raise some awareness of it.

Class dismissed...

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