Last Waitangi Day I spent most of the day getting to Auckland to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of friends.
I can’t remember clearly what I did on February 6 the year before, or the year before that or any other Waitangi Day.
Early February is a busy time on any farm so regardless of the holiday there has to be some business as usual.
I suspect when our daughter was at school we took the opportunity to go to the river for a swim but I have no memories of marking the day in any way which showed I was aware of its meaning.
That could also be said of Queens Birthday and Labour days.
But Waitangi Day is still special.
I can’t think of any other country where there was such an attempt to bridge the gap between the indigenous people and the government of the colonisers.
That the execution didn’t live up to the intent is shameful, but that shouldn’t detract from the importance of the attempt.
Such respect for indigenous people and recognition they had rights was probably unique at the time and it’s by no means universal now.
It’s fitting to mark that with due ceremony at Waitangi and wherever else people choose to do so. But if some, perhaps most of us, choose to mark the anniversary of the treaty’s signing, without the hoopla with which other countries celebrate their important days, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Being free to celebrate a wedding anniversary with friends, swim in the river or do whatever else we please is just as much a celebration as making a big fuss.
Meanwhile though, in Townsville my niece, who is a Kiwi of Scottish, English and Dutch descent, will be having a hangi with friends.