Celebrating Waitangi Day at Bastion Pt
Wed, 06 Feb 2013 11:15p.m.
By Ali Ikram
For many Waitangi Day was a chance to wash the car or go to the beach, but for others in Auckland there was a party at a very special place.
While the day means a whole lot of different things to different people, for Waitangi Day festival-goer James Brown it’s a reason to celebrate.
“For me it's just happy birthday New Zealand, it's about the birth of our country and what isn’t there to celebrate right now,” he says.
For some, the fact Bob Marley was born on the same day as our country was no accident, given that all he wanted us to do was get together and feel alright.
And fittingly down at Bastion Point today, topping the bill was a man who knows us better than we know ourselves.
“I know what it's like to be a New Zealander, you've having a complete raging party on the inside but you're standing there completely immobile,” says musician Dave Dobbyn.
“Shit, I'm having a good time, look at all these people they're having a good time too – but it beams out of you.”
On days like today it is easy to forget that 35 years ago the Crown planned to build high rise apartments on Bastion Point land, and to stop it happening local iwi Ngati Whatua had to occupy it for 507 days. Eviction didn't stop them – they fought and won.
“We were hard done by for many, many, many years – well at least a century,” says Grant Hawke of Ngati Whatua O Orakei.
“To share the land with the multitude of people is the best thing for the land, it heals the land, it brings about goodwill on both sides.”
As time goes on, Mr Hawke says he sees that struggle about handing the land on to future generations, and days like today.
Mr Brown agrees.
“People get a bit funny about this day because there's struggle involved in it and there's protest, but when I look out there I think, ‘God, this is worth fighting for’,” he says.
“No matter what side of the political equation you are on, the way I look at it is if you're not happy today you're not a Kiwi. Today's just a day to be happy and celebrate our country.”
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