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Events at Waitangi less central now to?our national day

Opinion Piece

Waitangi Day yesterday completed an almost perfect weekend for Gisborne and the East Coast, but the 177th celebration of our national day could see some future changes.

While the disturbances at Te Tii Marae, which included a humorous tete a tete between Winston Peters and marae officials, and on the Treaty grounds were minor by previous standards, there is a growing desire for change.

That could include avoiding the fractious lower marae or even moving the celebrations around the country. The latter prospect would have been enhanced by the successful visit of Prime Minister Bill English to Orakei.

It was also encouraging to see TV coverage of multi-cultural events in various parts of the country, while our own Ka Pai Kaiti again played its part on land by the historic former jail.

It all adds up to a swing away from Waitangi itself, with arguments between politicians as to whether or not the prime minister should attend becoming tiresome for many.

English also took a phone call yesterday from US President Donald Trump, managing to make the point that New Zealand does not support his travel ban and ending with a congratulatory tweet from Trump. It was a situation that could have ended badly for English and while many would have liked to see a more emphatic statement, he has navigated his way around it.

Events in Waitangi and elsewhere would not have been much on the mind of locals who were again basking in the highest temperatures in the country.

People flocked to the beaches, ice creams were consumed by the thousand and the bridge jumpers were out in battalion force.

Some sedentary types were enjoying the most thrilling Super Bowl in 50 years, but for the great majority it was a day to get outdoors. All eyes now turn to Wednesday when some much needed rain is forecast.

There is still some thought needed as to how to mark the day so that it does not become like Christmas and Easter — holidays which for many have lost their essential meaning.