(Prompted by the ramblings of National Justice spokesperson Richard Worth who, among others, believes we should change it cos people protest on Waitangi Day…)
1. Like it or not, the Treaty is our founding document, so it’s the logical day to celebrate our ‘nationhood’, more so than any other. The other candidates just don’t make sense. Anzac Day commemorates dead army guys, but also signifies military-strategic ineptitude, colonial subservience, and it’s just a downer. Worth suggests 24 May, the day in 1852 that New Zealand was granted responsible government. That is, when settler politicians took over the administration of the colony from Britain. (Actually, from a Treaty point of view, this wasn’t much to celebrate.) It’s also, as Worth helpfully points out, Queen Victoria’s Birthday. ‘Nuff said – surely we can do better than that…?
2. I agree with Hone Haraiwra – peaceful protest on the national day is not a problem. Protest brings positive change and, as Harawira points out, it has a valid place in Maori and Pakeha society. It’s a debate, man… So things aren’t perfect, people exchange views, fer chrissakes – what is Worth afraid of? We’re still negotiating our colonial past. It’s fine that this happens in New Zealand – c.f. the Hallmark patriotism of national days elsewhere. Debate is OKAY. Ditto for the cultural vs gender stuff – tikanga of women on marae etc – I don’t believe there’s one correct answer to those issues – but it’s sure a good thing that they’re getting aired publicly.
3. It’s hot actually hot most parts of the country in February, so it’s usually a good day to have off.
4. It’s also close to Chinese New Years – adding a multi- as well as bi-cultural touch. Come to think of it, maybe we should change our New Years to be the same as the Chinese one (again, for meteorological reasons – ref. point 3).
5. It’s also Bob Marley’s birthday, which is cool, and we know our country has long a ‘thing’ for reggae.
6. It’s been our national day for a long time since the 60s at least, so it’s already traditional, and the force of inertia favours leaving it where it is.
So – why don’t those flag guys devote their efforts to having Waitangi Day Monday-ized?