Time for a day that celebrates us

By Danielle Nicholson

Protesters clash with Maori Wardens on the Te Tii Marae during National Party's visit the day before Waitangi Day 2012.
Protesters clash with Maori Wardens on the Te Tii Marae during National Party's visit the day before Waitangi Day 2012.

Waitangi Day - for many of us it conjures up negative images of protesters marring commemorations and is simply an excuse for a day off work.

So I say scrap it. Replace it with New Zealand Day and celebrate all that it means to be a Kiwi and be grateful that we live where we do - a day that will have meaning for all of us.

Year after year the focus is on the hostility surrounding the event which casts a negative shadow over the day.

It makes me angry that the media gives them the attention they desire, giving oxygen to an unproductive situation.

What happened between our ancestors was a long time ago, you've been compensated for mistakes that were made.

Perhaps it's time we all move on, rise above the victim mentality and get on with making the best of all the opportunities - and there are plenty - on offer in this fair country.

Many settlers (regardless of ethnicity) have come from backgrounds where they've had nothing, they've battled adversity to get ahead in life. New migrants land on our shores every day.

They've fled war-torn countries with little more than the clothes on their backs.

But many are determined to rebuild their lives in New Zealand - a country they see as a safe haven and a place where they can raise a family, where their children can get an education and make something of their lives.

In order to move on, we need to let go of the ill-feeling associated with the past.

It would do wonders for race relations in New Zealand if we all got behind New Zealand Day and focused on celebrating what makes us Kiwis and being grateful that we get to call this land our home instead of dwelling on past wrongdoings.

If activists like Tame Iti and the Harawiras directed their energy in a positive and constructive manner maybe it would spark a change of attitude nationally.

Let's aim for the same patriotic enthusiasm our neighbours across the ditch display.

I was twice in Perth for Australia Day - those Aussies know how to throw one helluva nationwide party.

They organise mass get-togethers, they congregate for incredible fireworks displays on shorelines, riverbanks and parks in every state.

The spirit of the occasion is infectious. And regardless of the state of their race relations, the country stops to celebrate all that's good about it.

Let's leave behind the ill-feeling that dates back to before any of us were born and celebrate being a part of this tiny nation that punches well above its weight on many international stages.

While we're at it, perhaps it is time to change the flag to something that reflects both our Maori and European beginnings, but also the multi-national melting pot that we've come to be.

I can see New Zealand Day being a great excuse for a day off work, but one that we could all look forward to enjoying for more reasons than just a sleep in.

- Hamilton News

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