Here’s a young journalist who always asks questions that get me thinking all day. Glenn McConnell writes an occasional column in the Dominion Post and I enjoy his clear writing and fresh viewpoint. Today’s article (link below) is no exception and well worth a read in the run up to Waitangi Day.
Waitangi Day is a barometer for the racial weather of New Zealand and in my lifetime I’ve watched it plummet through some storms, with the occasional dry, settled weather before more storms.
Bill English memorably said in 2017, “A lot of New Zealanders cringe a bit on Waitangi Day.”
Glenn McConnell doesn’t. He feels “a strange clash of excitement and dread.” That sounds like a cringe, but it’s not. Here the emphasis feels very much like he wants the excitement to triumph.
Me too, Glenn. Where are we this year? How are we feeling?
A Waitangi cringe comes when an individual says something or acts in a way that appears painfully disrespectful, offence is taken and suddenly people are ranting uselessly about ‘us’ and ‘them’. Given the history of this country, the focus on 6th Feb and the sensitivity roused by the complicated spirits at Waitangi, perhaps the first is inevitable. But we are learning to respond with talk and education, rather than offence. That’s a generosity that I haven’t often felt before.
New Zealanders discuss racism now, in the way my parents’ generation seldom did, and our colonial legacy. Slowly, we’re beginning to own it. Each generation makes new attempts to understand the bigger issues. When a young journalist like Glenn McConnell says he is excited by Waitangi Day, I see a positive swing in New Zealand’s barometer. The past is opening up and the discussion is now: Here we are. What is just and fair?
McConnell says Waitangi Day is a day to celebrate progress.
“That we can think, talk and remember makes me be proud to be a Kiwi. That’s why I’m excited.”
Have a Happy Waitangi Day everyone.
Link to article by Glenn McConnell: That Waitangi Feeling