Today, 6th February is Waitangi Day. It used to be called New Zealand Day, but legislation in the 1970s changed it to Waitangi Day. Waitangi is a quaint place in the North Island, where the chief’s of the northern Maori tribes came together and signed an agreement (Treaty) with the then Queen Victoria’s representative, in order for both parties to co-govern New Zealand.
There’s a bit of history behind the Treaty. The French had moved into the South Island, around Banks Peninsula, and the English wanted to sign an agreement to have control of the country. They wrote up a constitution, and as a result, they decided to work with the natives instead of trying to wipe them out, like they had tried to do in other countries that the English colonised.
Maori didn’t believe in land ownership. They saw themselves as guardians of the land, and wanted to make sure that the resources were available for future generations. As the English came in and settled the land, they were pushed further and further from their tribal lands.
Unfortunately, the English got greedy, and broke the agreements of the treaty, and not long after, a war broke out, which the English called the Maori wars, but it was a land grab by the English. It was easier to blame the natives and take land than to pay them for it.
For years, there was disagreement and unease between the English and the Maori, until the goverment decided to settle the grievances that the tribes had, and called it Treaty settlements, where Maori tribes are reimbursed for the land that was confiscated during this time.
Today, because the Treaty was signed on 6th February 1842, and became the birth of our nation. Personally, I would like to see Treaty settlements completed and then our nation, Aotearoa New Zealand, can finally become one nation, and one people; New Zealanders. Not Maori, not European, Asian or any other race. We will be one people, where some of us will have tribes, some will have clans, and some will have families, but we will be recognised, not by the colour of our skin, but by the nation that we become and stand for.
I don’t consider myself European, I am fourth generation New Zealand born. I come from Viking, Irish and Scottish clans, and families from England. I can’t claim any Maori blood, but New Zealand culture runs through my veins.
I write about Maori mythology in my stories, I love the stories of taniwha (guardians of waterways), Manaia (a messenger that moves between the spirit and earth realms), Patupaiarehe (a mountain fairy) and Atua (evil spirit). Mythical creatures that have an intricate part of Maori culture. The Maori have an intricate history, their language was verbal and stories were passed down by song or storytelling. I like to think that I can extend those legends and stories and share them with the world.
I value New Zealand, I value our culture, and I dream that one day, we will become guardians of the land, ensuring resources for future generations.