The problem with Waitangi Day is that it has become all about Maori grievances and the separatist politics of Maori activists. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by Governor William Hobson on behalf of the Queen and by many Maori chiefs in the place it was named after on this day on 1840, but in recent years official ceremonies at Waitangi have been marred by protests and violence. Successive prime ministers have been treated with contempt by local Maori, with the result that Prime Minister Bill English has refused to attend the 'celebrations' there this year.
Many of the Treaty of Waitangi grievances are, in my view, baseless. The Treaty is a very short and simple document with three articles that recorded the following:
1) Maori chiefs ceded sovereignty to the British Crown
2) Maori tribes, chiefs, families and individuals were guaranteed their existing property rights
3) It made all Maori British subjects.
Articles 1 and 3 effectively abolished Maori tribal government and made Maori individually British citizens, but ironically the Treaty has been interpreted in recent years to bring about a return to the tribal rule that it ended. I think it is clear that the Treaty gives no superior political rights to any tribal leaders today and claims that it established some sort of on-going 'partnership' between tribal political entities and the government of today are entirely spurious. There is nothing in the Treaty that gives legitimacy to current tribal leaders who claim to represent people of Maori descent - unless they are elected to our contemporary democratic institutions, in which case they represent all New Zealanders, not just those of Maori descent.
Governor Hobson said, after the initial signing of the Treaty on 6th February 1840, "now we are one people." It would be nice if that ideal was recognised on this day rather than it being seen as yet another opportunity to promote an entirely bogus separatism and seemingly irreconcilable grievances.