This year Waitangi Day falls on Wednesday, right in the middle of the week. In recent years there’s been a marked increase in the number of celebrations around the country. How could we celebrate Waitangi Day better, without taking away from the day’s historical importance?
Here’s a few suggestions:
Awarding New Zealand honours on Waitangi Day
An annual message from our (de facto) head of state
Increasing funding for Waitangi Day celebrations
At the moment, our honours are announced on New Years’ Day and the Queen’s Birthday (holiday). Obviously, awarding honours on the Queen’s Birthday will need to change anyway. We might as well move that announcement to our national day.
At the moment, there really isn’t any message on Waitangi Day. Our national day is an opportune time to articulate our challenges and to look back at our acheivements (and maybe even failings!). A message, delivered in both English and Te Reo Maori would be a great step forward. It’s a common theme overseas. For example, the President of Ireland issues an annual message on Ireland’s national day, St Patrick’s Day.
Finally, funding Waitangi Day celebrations. Amazingly, we spend next to nothing on Waitangi Day celebrations - $288,000 in fact. Sure, there’s plenty of other things we could spend that money on - housing, schools, the police etc - but this is our national day. Additional funding doesn’t have to be new funding - we can all think of programs or policies that are very expensive.