Foreshore and seabed information   |   Indigenous Rights

Independence Day celebrations

29 October 2004

Almost 500 people attended the Maori Declaration of Independence Day celebrations at Rangiatea, New Plymouth, yesterday where history and hangi, music and messages all had a part.

For Mr Tuuta and Ms Ngarewa-Packer the day was about bringing people together to talk about the way forward for Maori.

"Not getting caught up in the grievances and the negativity," Mr Tuuta, of Ngati Mutunga, said.

He also talked about autonomy for Maori, but not separatism. "We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves."

Both he and Ms Ngarewa-Packer said the growing togetherness of Maori was a direct reaction to controversial issues, like those presented by National Party leader Don Brash in his speech to the Orewa Rotary Club.

"We can be complacent at times, but the issues raise your awareness," Mr Tuuta said.

Ms Ngarewa-Packer, of Ngati Ruanui and Nga Rauru, said yesterday's hui was about encouraging family discussions. "We believe the solutions are in whanau development, because they can contribute to hapu and then to iwi."

The day of peaceful empowerment did not include the usual independence march through New Plymouth streets. It was abandoned because Maori felt that the hikoi to Parliament over the foreshore issue was more important.

"We felt that the mana needed to stay with that kaupapa (cause)," Ms Ngarewa-Packer said.

Singer-songwriter Ms Black, from the Bay of Plenty, said the day was extremely positive. "It was very good that they took the time to inspire and encourage and discuss issues I suppose are only discussed at home."

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia was one of the main guests at the celebrations.

The Daily News

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