Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Six February is a public holiday in New Zealand; Waitangi Day.  It’s the closest thing we have to an Australia Day or an Independence Day-type-deal, but instead it’s the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, wherein sovereignty over New Zealand was ceded to the Crown.  It has a terrible shadow hanging over it - the Treaty is not a document of celebration, it has become a symbol of subjugation and resentment. 

Never fear, I am too ill-educated and ashamed of my colonial roots (my turangawaewae; place to stand) to get into a lengthy exposition on Ti Tiriti.  What I’m leading up to is that many New Zealanders don’t use the day as a chance to celebrate nationhood.  Instead, it is treated as a free day, devoid of particular meaning (much like the Queen’s Birthday holiday).  We tend to celebrate being Kiwi or our roots more on Anzac Day, 25 April.  That is the anniversary of the deployment of Australian and New Zealand forces on the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign in WWI, which ended largely in disaster but shaped our national consciousness.  I guess it’s sort of an equivalent to Memorial Day in the States.  Waitangi Day is in summer; we hit the beach, we bbq in the backyard, we fix our gardens/decks/cars.   

The 6th falls on a Wednesday this year.  Free day Wednesday = two Friday nights this week.  JUST ASKING FOR TROUBLE, BASICALLY.  I have friends from London in town, a boatload of work to avoid and some sunshine on the way.  A potent combo, you might say. 

Now that I think about it, it’s so odd that we’re a secular country that considers itself free and independent and yet we have public holidays for the Queen’s Bday (she’s still officially the head of state, I guess) and Easter (the baby Jeebus.  It’s not even a pagan/spring thing here – southern hemisphere autumn, ffs).  I think what we’re really about is a day off.  More public holidays, more of the time!

And that concludes the (half-assed and ill-expressed) Kiwi lesson today, boys and girls.  Day off = booze and loose behaviour, with a little greenthumb and DIY.  (You know I jest, right? - we New Zealanders are more diverse than that. Still, if the shoe fits...I'll wear it).   

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