Bainimarama greets New Zealanders on Waitangi Day

Bainimarama greets New Zealanders on Waitangi Day

Venkat Raman

Fiji’s President President Major-General (Retired) Jioji Konrote, Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, top government officials, diplomats and others were among the guests at the Waitangi Day Celebrations held in Fiji on February 6, 2020.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr hosted the event at his official residence in Suva, highlighting the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi and the time-honoured bilateral relations between New Zealand and Fiji.

Speaking on behalf of the Mr Konrote and Bainimarama, Fiji’s Deputy Chief of Protocol Mesake Ledua said that his country is pleased to observe the ‘soaring friendship and bilateral ties’ between the two countries following the ‘Pacific Reset’ programme.

“This engagement has strengthened people-to-people links and renewed our commitment towards elevated cooperation between the two countries. The Republic of Fiji has had a long and fruitful relationship with the government of New Zealand at a bilateral, regional and multilateral level since the establishment of our diplomatic relations. The government of New Zealand has stood by Fiji over the years and has been a great partner assisting Fiji with its development needs,” he said.

Mr Curr said that New Zealand will continue to assist Fiji with its national development.

Radio New Zealand reports”

More than 2500 people gathered at Waitangi on February 6, 2020 to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the Treaty.

People started flooding into the grounds from about 430 am.

Among those who offered their prayers were Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, Treaty Grounds Chairperson Pita Tipene and Chairperson of the Rūnanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi Mere Mangu.

Ms Ardern spoke of the bridge between two people.

“On this 180th Waitangi Day, let us pledge to take a step across the bridge between our peoples, give us the perseverance in our daily lives to commit to a simple action that helps take us to the other side, and in doing so give us the courage to walk comfortably in each other’s shoes,” she said.

Housing and child poverty

She said that the government must address housing and child poverty before it can begin resolving wider aspirations for Maori.

“New Zealand history should be taught in schools and more children should be learning Te Reo Maori,” she said, calling people to unite in kindness and care towards one another.

She concluded her prayer with the last verse of the national anthem.

After the Service, she and other ministers served breakfast.

National Party leader Simon Bridges added the Waitangi Tribunal to the list of what he thinks New Zealand should eventually do away with.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters said that he wanted to see Māori parents, especially mothers encourage their children to be heroes, whether it is in sport, music or education.

Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis said that his vision for the future is for Pākehā and Māori to be comfortable in each other’s worlds.

“Māori have been crossing the bridge into the Pākehā world since before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. I want Pākehā to cross the bridge into the Māori world, understand the customs and tikanga, so that they do not have to justify why they think and feel the way they do,” he said.

Treaty breaches

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki used his time on the podium to acknowledge the many breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown since 1840, including the taking of Māori land.

He also called out the government for its failure to eliminate poverty among Māori.

Former Maori Affairs Minister Sir Pita Sharples said that Hoani Waititi Marae is his dream and that he is proud of what has been achieved.

About 10,000 people streamed into West Auckland’s Hoani Waititi Marae.

The free event included performances by artistes like Kora, Katchafire and Troy Kingi among others.

  1. Jioji Konrote, Frank Bainimarama, Jonathan Curr and others on Waitangi Day in Suva (Facebook)
  2. Jonathan Curr speaking to Frank Bainimarama at Waitangi Day Celebrations in Suga (Facebook)
  3. Jacinda Ardern with her daughter Neve at Waitangi on February 6 (RNZ Picture by Simon Rogers)
  4. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers preparing breakfast at Waitangi on February 6 (RNZ Picture)

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