Shearer urges honour shift

Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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New Year honours should be scrapped and replaced with Waitangi Day ones, Labour leader David Shearer says.

He wants New Zealanders to make more of a celebration of Waitangi Day - our national day.

"We should celebrate it properly. All over the world, countries celebrate their national day. Surely we have as much - or more - to celebrate as they do."

Mr Shearer wanted to hear more people saying "Happy Waitangi Day".

He suggested moving the New Year's honours, awarding the Order of New Zealand on February 6, and announcing the New Zealander of the Year then too.

"I'd like to see parties, concerts, fireworks, special events across towns and cities in New Zealand, each celebrating what makes us special in their own way."

Too often Waitangi Day was defined by conflict and Mr Shearer said he was tired of it.

"While there are legitimate issues to debate for Maori and Pakeha alike, Waitangi Day should be the day where we focus on what we have to celebrate as a country."

Mr Shearer, a former aid worker, said he had spent much of his life working in places where people were killing each other to have a country of their own. "We New Zealanders have so much to be thankful for."

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- The Dominion Post

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