Labour Leader David Shearer: Happy Waitangi Day

For most New Zealanders, Waitangi Day is a bonus day off. It’s a day to have a barbecue and head to the beach with the family – if the weather comes to the party.

But it should be so much more than that.

It should be a day of celebration, a day when we reflect on what makes this country a great place to live.

Instead it is all too often a lightning rod for discord.

Of course, there are legitimate issues for Maori and Pakeha to debate. But as I wrote in yesterday’s Dominion Post newspaper, I’d like to see Waitangi Day become a day when Kiwis celebrate what unites us, rather than dwell on what still divides us.

When Norman Kirk first made Waitangi Day a full national holiday in the 1970s it was meant to help give us “a full sense of nationhood”.

In that spirit, I believe Waitangi Day would be the perfect day to hand out honours and name the New Zealander and Young New Zealander of the year.

It should be a day for all Kiwis, and I’d be keen to hear your ideas about how to make Waitangi Day a day of celebration and pride. Drop me an email, or write to me at Parliament.

In any case, I hope you all have a great Waitangi Day.

Ka kite anō au i a koe,

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