Indigenous peoples' rights   |   Constitutional arrangements

Information on NZ Day Bill submissions

July 2005

Kia ora,

If you are planning on making a submission on Peter Dunne's New Zealand Day Bill, the final day for submissions is Friday 29 July. It is fine to email your submission to reach the Clerk by 4pm on that Friday (see contact details in section 2 below) as long as you also post the 20 copies to arrive by the following week. Late submissions most likely will not be accepted by the Committee because it is about to go to recess along with all other Select Committees pending the appointment of a new government following the election.

There are four sections below:

    1. the text of the Bill;
    2. details of how you can make a submission;
    3. the press release from Peter Dunne which indicates his motivation for re-introducing the Bill - his theory seems to be that changing the name of Waitangi Day, rather than actually honouring the Treaty, is the way to "unite and not divide New Zealanders"; and
    4. a speech from Metiria Turei which provides a different viewpoint.

Other speeches from the debate at the Bill's first reading are available online: 16 March 2005 and 6 April 2005.

1. Text of the New Zealand Day Bill

New Zealand Day Bill - Explanatory Note

Contemporary New Zealand is becoming an increasingly diverse nation, culturally and ethnically.

It is vital that, as a modern multicultural nation, New Zealand recognise its diversity through a designated national day to which all sectors of our society feel able to contribute. This Bill proposes that New Zealand Day be celebrated on the day presently known as Waitangi Day, 6 February. However, to ensure that the fullest range of commemorative celebrations can take place, and also to acknowledge the particular significance of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Bill proposes that New Zealand Day be regularised and held on the Monday of the week in which 6 February falls. The Bill also repeals the Waitangi Day Act 1976, meaning that the weekend of New Zealand Day would be the only occasion on which the national day commemorations take place, and that there would no longer be any separate celebration for Waitangi Day.

New Zealand Day Bill
Member's Bill - Hon Peter Dunne

1 Title
This Act is the New Zealand Day Act 2004.

2 Commencement
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3 Purpose
The purpose of this Act is to make provision for the observance of 6 February in each year as a public holiday to commemorate both the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and New Zealand's national identity.

4 New Zealand Day to be day of commemoration
In commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, and to celebrate New Zealand's national identity, 6 February in each year is to be known as New Zealand Day.

5 Observance of New Zealand Day
New Zealand Day must be observed as a public holiday throughout New Zealand on the Monday of the week in which it falls.

6 Act to bind the Crown
This Act binds the Crown.

7 Repeal
The Waitangi Day Act 1976 is repealed.

2. How you can make a submission

The Justice and Electoral Committee has called for submissions on this bill. Copies can be purchased at Bennetts Government Bookshops (or see above).

The purpose of the bill is to make provision for the observance of 6 February in each year as a public holiday to commemorate both the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and New Zealand's national identity.

Please forward 20 copies of your submission by Friday, 29 July 2005. If you wish to appear before the committee, state this clearly with your submission, providing a contact name and daytime phone number. Submissions to select committees generally become public. Please contact the committee secretariat before sending information of a private or personal nature. For further guidance on making a submission, see Making a Submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee (PDF file).

Contact details: Justice and Electoral Committee, email or email, tel (04) 471 9465, fax (04) 499 0486, post to Justice and Electoral Committee Secretariat, Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

3. Dunne resubmits New Zealand Day Bill

05 February 2004

United Future leader Peter Dunne will shortly re-submit his New Zealand Day Bill to Parliament as a Memberís Bill "because events of last week and today show thereís a crying need for a national day that will unite and not divide New Zealanders".

The Bill seeks to rename Waitangi Day and Mondayise the holiday in the week in which February 6 occurs.

It was debated by Parliament in May 2000 and was voted down by 76 ≠ 42 with one abstention, Georgina Te Heu Heu.

"Itís ironic," said Mr Dunne, "that Mrs Te Heu Heu spoke movingly in that debate about Waitangi Day being part of our national psyche and the Treaty of Waitangi a part of our identity.

"Today, of course, she has been tossed aside by the National Party in its desperate effort to capture the New Zealand First vote and her leader, Dr Brash, has made a major contribution to race relations by storming off Te Tii marae and becoming the target of verbal abuse and clods of dirt.

"This is precisely the sort of hostility and dissension that most New Zealanders are heartily sick of and want to see an end to.

"The passage of my Bill would go a long way towards meeting that demand of the New Zealand voters," said Mr Dunne.

United Future Press Release

4. Speech by Metiria Turei

6 April 2005

The Green Party opposes this bill and will be voting against it. In large part, the Greens and Mr Dunne probably agree that it is important to recognise diversity, and important for all sectors of our society to feel that they can contribute to our society and to our nation as a whole. The difference, of course, is that Mr Dunne wants to make a name change, whereas the Greens are very much committed to ensuring that New Zealanders as a whole have real access to information about our collective history, and that we engage with and are enabled to embrace that history≠warts and all≠and use it as a means to eliminate racism, deepen our understanding, and, most importantly, foster peace in our communities. That will take much more commitment from our politicians than just changing the name of a holiday.

The Greens believe that we should be proud of Waitangi Day, the day that commemorates the signing of the treaty. It is the only day that commemorates that signing and that treaty. It is the only day that recognises and celebrates the M‚ori contribution to our nation. It is the only day that puts M‚ori at the forefront as the hosts of celebrations, discussions, and debates. It is the only day when M‚ori are recognised as the tangata whenua of this country. The tangata whenua have a special place≠a particular status≠in our nation, and changing the name of Waitangi Day to New Zealand Day would be a shift in consciousness away from that. It is a day for non-M‚ori≠for all of us and all our communities≠to take stock of where we are and of how much we are all living up to our responsibilities under the Treaty of Waitangi. It is a day to assess whether our nation, the Government, and Parliament are truly abiding by the essence and provisions of the treaty, whether we are making progress in the righting of historical wrongs, whether we are empowering M‚ori communities to take control of their own lives, and whether we are properly resourcing tangata whenua, iwi, and hapŻ to overcome the historical disadvantages caused by the past mistakes of our Governments.

Some people say that Waitangi Day is discredited, but they are wrong. Sure, it has been a day of debate, passion, and protest, and there is nothing wrong with that. That is what our democracy is all about≠the right to disagree. But we have some way to travel before we can become a bicultural, bi-structural nation. The debate over the foreshore and seabed, when there was so much anger and hurt from M‚ori and from P‚keh‚, illustrates how far we have yet to go. The Government ran roughshod over M‚ori and P‚keh‚ concerns that M‚ori cultural and customary practices and M‚ori entitlements to their traditional resources were being extinguished by legislation. We cannot and must not hide from the divisions that exist in our society≠divisions about what the treaty means to us all and what the ways forward for us might be≠by taking away the platforms for dialogue and debate, the key one being Waitangi Day. We cannot just change the name of Waitangi Day to New Zealand Day and pretend that in doing so we will make things better. It will make no difference to the situation we find ourselves in. It will not mean that we become one people and that M‚ori will suddenly forget about all the things that have happened to them in the past, or that P‚keh‚ will forget their own histories in our nation.

In the explanatory note of the bill, Peter Dunne talks about how we are now a modern, multicultural nation and how New Zealand Day would recognise that better than Waitangi Day. But true multiculturalism can be consistent with biculturalism. True multiculturalists take pride in recognising the place and role of indigenous peoples in their own countries. Migrants often recognise that much better than our P‚keh‚ community. Migrant communities often take on the reo and songs. Some migrant communities, like the Sri Lankan Tamil community, have special educational events on Waitangi Day to learn about the treaty and its implications for them as a community. Those are important activities. The bonds are growing. Migrants are becoming more bicultural. They understand what it is to be indigenous in a country and to face and suffer the difficulties that arise from that. M‚ori and migrant communities sense a need to prevent their cultures from being undermined by the dominant State. The Greens do not knock a bit more holiday time for New Zealanders, but we need a day to celebrate and recognise Waitangi and what it means for us all. Long may Waitangi continue!

Metiria Turei MP, Green Party
Speech on First Reading of the New Zealand Day Bill.

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