Waitangi Day/Rā o Waitangi – A day to celebrate or a sombre reminder?

Message from Kaitohu Matamua Māori/Director of Māori Ikimoke Tamaki-Takarei (Waikato, Tainui).

Since 1974 Waitangi Day has been recognised as an annual holiday.

The treaty document is considered to be our nation’s founding constitutional document. It guides the relationship between the Crown and Māori. But, the time between then and now has seen tremendous change. Colonisation has seen Māori displaced. However, there have been organised challenges through legal and grassroots mechanisms to ensure the Crown honours its obligations.   

The three principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi form the basis of interactions between health professionals and Māori consumers. The principles derived from policy produced by the Royal Commission on Social Policy, 1988.

  • Partnership
  • Participation
  • Protection

At HDC, we have a key role to play in supporting the Crown to honour its obligations to support manawhenua, because mana is intrinsically linked to hauora for Māori. Our role is to develop kaupapa Māori solutions to help resolve inequities in the health and disability sector and honour our Te Tiriti obligations.

It’s essential for those who experience worse outcomes in our health and disability system to understand the HDC Code of Rights.

People who are from non-rights based cultures, or who have experienced significant discrimination and are not used to having rights, may also not be well equipped with an understanding of their rights or how to exercise them. Our role is to bring redress to this.

Since my appointment, I have been developing our internal cultural knowledge and competence of ‘te reo me ona tikanga’ (language and its protocols). This will enable more effective and appropriate recognition and response to Maori complainants and complaints to improve health outcomes for Māori in the health and disability system and help restore ‘Mana’.

There are many ways to celebrate, commemorate, think about, participate and reflect on our national day. This day binds us as a nation and reminds us while we are one – we are also two – with two journeys and two ways of being, travelling in waka side-by-side.

Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au.

More information

There are many useful websites about Te Tiriti. I’m sure most of you are familiar with them but if you want to refresh your memory, here is a selection as a starting point: