Editorial: National day - time to start afresh?

GREER BERRY DIGITAL EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 05/02/2013

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OPINION: Let's put politics to the side for a minute and consider one of the things Australia does much better than New Zealand: Celebrating ourselves on our own shores.

Australia Day makes Waitangi Day look like an absolute embarrassment. And it is.

They say there's nothing more patriotic than a Kiwi overseas: greenstone pendant around their neck, wearing an All Blacks shirt and ripping into their care packages of Pineapple Lumps and Marmite (when available).

Then when it comes to Waitangi Day, thousands of New Zealanders on their OE take over the streets of London which is, at times, controversial - but at least they are one thing: united.

They highlight the things they love about being a Kiwi, and they have fun celebrating it - whether it's dressing up like a national icon, taking part in a roaring haka or just being a part of something bigger.

Kiwis in London celebrate Waitangi Day in the way Australia celebrates Australia Day.

On our neighbour's national holiday, no politicians are interviewed on the 6pm news. They're too busy relaxing with their families, throwing another shrimp on the barbie and relaxing in the sun.

Sure, there are protests on Australia Day also but the majority recognise the need to have one day a year where the focus won't be on things that divide but instead on things that everyone has in common.

It feels like we, as a country, will never be able to move on from the Waitangi Day spectacle.

So is it time to create a new national holiday?

This is not about trying to quell the right to protest or disable sensible discussions about anything to do with the historic document for which the day was created to "celebrate".

It's about realising that the country has been scarred by the divide that Waitangi Day has created.

Why not start off afresh with a new, non-political day where New Zealanders of all backgrounds look to the future and not to the past; where politicians aren't given a platform to comment.

The only way New Zealand will get to this point though is for the desire and demand to come from the communities themselves.

We have no trouble being patriotic overseas, so why can't we do it at home? It will start with tuning out of the political debate and turning to our friends and families and choosing to celebrate our country in a positive way - united, just for one day at least.

ONE MORE THING

Welcome back, rain! It's great to have a bit of semblance of a Kiwi summer return with the rainclouds, but please remember to drive to the conditions. Police say slippery roads contributed to a handful of crashes in the region yesterday.

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- Manawatu Standard

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