Herstory of Waitangi

Trans Tasman has suggests the history of the Treaty of Waitangi might be being re-written as a herstory:

There’s a generation of school kids growing up under the impression the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Governor Hobson and Titewhai Harawira.

This is not so much an indictment on our school system: more on the way Harawira manages to plant herself at the epicentre of our annual national day.

It isn’t clear quite how this happened. True, she managed to make Helen Clark cry, and for some of us there’s always a hope Titewhai – who has become a sort of Kiwi version of a fierce Wodehousian aunt as imagined by one of the more bizarrely gothic Dutch painters – would have a similar impact one of Clark’s successors. There doesn’t seem much chance with the current lot.

If she were to try such a stunt today, John Key would either declare himself relaxed about it, or just have one of his memory lapses. Labour’s David Shearer probably would not notice, unless a staffer or his autocue told him about it. NZ First’s Winston Peters and Act’s John Banks would respond with inarticulate belligerence, and United Future’s Peter Dunne probably with a milder, if more articulate, form of same.

The only ones discombobulated would be Green co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei: they are more used to being part of protests than being on the receiving end of them.

So what does Waitangi Day, our national day, tell us about ourselves – you know, apart from the fact we are suckers for being bullied by stroppy old ladies?

Well, we’re still working on this treaty stuff, and we’re not very comfortable about the whole race issue. But also we’re not ignoring it and we’re kind of muddling our way through it all, if a little noisily and apologetically.

Apropos of understanding the history of the treaty, I have to confess that I went through school under the impression it ended the land wars.

It was only when I did a New Zealand history paper at university that I learned that wasn’t the case.

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