Joseph Johnson / Stuff
Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) Lisa Tumahai believes that there is “a different society on our horizon”.
Waitangi Day remains a chance to talk about New Zealand’s past and future, despite Covid-19 restrictions sabotaging many commemorations, Ngāi Tahu leaders say.
Most events in Te Waipounamu on February 6 were canceled under red lights, although Christchurch’s Waitangi Day festival was streamed online. Instead, Iwi leaders shared their thoughts on key issues, including Crown-Maori relations, with Things.
Being one of the first iwi to reach a settlement and receive an apology from the Crown in 1998, Ngāi Tahu has since established a constructive relationship with the government.
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But Ngāi Tahu President Lisa Tumahai said on the anniversary of the most important day in the country’s history, it was important to remind the Crown of its promises and rangatiratanga (self-reliance) .
The nation must not lose sight of its founding document – Te Tiriti o Waitangi – and its intent, she said.
Although many people probably wouldn’t know what it was about, Three Waters would be this year’s hot topic for iwi, she said.
“It’s about making decisions about taonga’s assets and including ourselves.”
Covid-19 would also have dominated her Waitangi Day marae talks, she said.
“I take a focus on well-being before the economy.”
Tumahai believed coupling the pandemic response with issues like Three Waters increased racial divisions.
“[But] overall, many people understand the harm that resulted from the signing of the treaty.
” It does not matter. It’s part of the fabric of New Zealand society and we all have to learn to live with it.
With the revival of te reo Māori and the nation’s history soon to be taught in schools, “I really think there is a different society on our horizon.”
Ngāi Tūāhuriri ūpoko Te Maire Tau enjoyed observing a “change of terrain” on race relations in society. But there was no future in extracting limited resources without taking care of the environment, he said, and “Maori and the Crown will have to have a discussion about the issues”.
“We need to understand how New Zealand law protects Maori interests as opposed to majority tyranny?”
The next generation will have to reckon with abandoning wealth creation – such as the unregulated extraction of limited water and minerals – he said, because climate change and sustainability were more important.
“You have to make sure the resources are there for future generations.
Ōnuku Rūnanga President Rik Tainui said the relationship between Ngāi Tahu and the Crown was important.
The day was usually a get-together celebration, he said, and the rūnanga still looked forward to hosting 300 to 400 people, including those for the now-cancelled citizenship ceremony.
“Everyone is just a little nervous with this new variant.”
This year they were to unveil a large louse in Takapūneke, but that was also postponed.
His whānau would probably now spend the day relaxing at home.
Tumahai was looking forward to attending a local event at Te Tai Poutini (west coast) rather than the major tribal events she had attended in other years.
But the hapū was getting used to the idea of minimizing risk during the pandemic, so the day would be spent being with whānau – like the kaiwhakahaere planned to do with his mokopuna.
Ngāi Tahu leaders and kaumātua met with government ministers to discuss how they can work together for the first time since signing its treaty in the mid-1990s. (First published June 15, 2021)
WAITANGI DAY IN THE RED:
Many Waitangi Day events have been canceled due to Covid-19, but some are adapting to move forward. The Waitangi Day Festival, held in Victoria Square, will be streamed online from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on February 6. Hosted by Tahu FM radio hosts Jason Phillips and Tumehe Rongonui, it includes performances from kapa haka groups, the Pasifika community and local bands. A live stream will be available here.
The Christchurch Art Gallery is hosting two free sessions to learn raranga weaving at 11am-12pm and 1pm-2pm on Waitangi Day. All materials are provided and no experience is necessary.