Last week heralded what felt like a historic moment at Waitangi. Proceedings moved from Te Tii Marae – a change deserving of its own discussion – to the Upper Marae, and both Government and Opposition Members of Parliament were welcomed on simultaneously. The Government ditched a fancy closed-doors breakfast at a hotel and replaced it with a barbecue breakfast for the public (with MPs and Ministers on the tools). The air was alive with the potential for a new dawn in Crown-Māori relations, founded on well-overdue formal recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Much commentary has made out that the absence of protest is what made it special, but I don’t think that could be further from the truth. Protest is important, and valid, and I have no doubt it’ll return. What was important was the commitment laid out by our Government. Words don’t suffice. Ongoing mahi will have to stand testament to the Greens and the Crown’s Te Tiriti responsibilities and obligations.
In the meantime, my incredible EA, Tim Onnes, was there to document our time at Waitangi. This was our experience:
We wake on Monday morning to find Waitangi cloaked in mist. Awe-inspiring.
Green Team Assemble. We make our way up to the treaty grounds.
Labour’s Kelvin Davis fills us in on the pōwhiri.
Ngāpuhi lay down the wero (challenge).
James accepts the wero.
During the pōwhiri, James spoke on our ongoing commitment to honouring Te Tiriti and affirmed the fact that Māori never ceded sovereignty.
I went with James and the PM to Paihea School for a picnic. After the last two incredible picnics the Greens have held on Parliament Lawn, try telling me 2018 isn’t the year of the picnic.
A good opportunity for James to lose the tie.
One big kid with all the little kids.
Everyone was really welcoming, even with the sea of journalists that followed us.
Quite partial to a good picnic.
After the visit to Paihia School, we got to explore the sights and sounds – a waka powering through the water is always an awesome sight to behold.
Tuesday. Waitangi Day. Kicked off with a dawn service – well worth the 4am start. It’s pretty much pitch black here – Tim, in his photographic prowess, would like it known that’s why the graininess.
The Upper Marae was packed out for the service.
We were greeted by the rising sun and beautiful low cloud hanging over the hills.
Loitering around for a bit, enjoying the view and kōrero with the crowd.
Watched the sunrise as whānau kākāriki.
Some of the great Young Greens squad.
Tim and I.
After kōrero by the Upper Marae, we made our way down to the Waka House for a breakfast bbq.
Marama was on bacon…
…and I was on egg duty.
There were hundreds more people than anticipated, meaning initially hearty rations became scarce quite quickly!
James ft. dad shirt & BBQ.