E te papa ki waho tena koe
E nga mate, haere, haere, haere
E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu, e nga iwi nga hau e wha
tena koutou, tena koutou, tena ra tatou katoa
I acknowledge and greet the house, the land, those who have gone before, the prestige of the occasion, the voices, the people of this area and the people who have come from the directions of the four winds. I acknowledge the councillors, community board members and MPs who have come to support this occasion. I wish to thank Te Hapu o Ngati Wheke for their manaakitanga. You have made us feel very welcome and made this a special day for us all. I particularly welcome the 25 candidates, representing 11 different nationalities, who leave the marae this afternoon as New Zealand Citizens. I know that this is a very important milestone in your lives.
As I said before the fact that you are gaining citizenship on Waitangi Day makes this even more significant, as it is today that we reflect on our bi-cultural nationhood that has enabled us to celebrate the diversity of our multi-cultural society that we have become. I was asked by the City Library to write what Waitangi Day meant for me so that they could share the message with the children who were learning about the Treaty of Waitangi, our founding document. It caused me to reflect on my own experience.
I said when I was a child we didn't learn anything about the Treaty at school. As an adult I became ashamed at how little I knew. We didn't know how to pronounce the names or even know the meaning of the places where we grew up or in my case one of the schools I went to. Papanui (where I grew up) means a large piece of land and Waimairi (my first school) reflects listless or peaceful water by the trees – they say still waters run deep, so a good name for a school. I went on to say that I was pleased that young people today learn about our shared history with Maori, good and bad, and not just the history of the European settlors. The Treaty in modern times has served as the basis for resolving grievances that arose when its principles were not honoured.
Every settlement begins with a statement of the facts (gleaned from a consideration of all the evidence by the Waitangi Tribunal) and an apology for the wrong that has been done. It is easy to explain to children the importance of people owning up and saying sorry when they have done wrong. In this case the wrong was done by the Crown, which lives on in the form of the Executive arm of government, which is why the apology is recorded in the Act of Parliament that confirms the settlement.
I have been reflecting on the importance of owning up and saying sorry. During my time in Parliament, the government acknowledged two non-Treaty historic wrongs and apologised for them. The first was 12 years ago, the last time we celebrated the Year of the Horse and this was when the Prime Minister apologised for the poll tax and other discriminatory practices that were applied only to the Chinese migrants, many of whom originally came to mine for gold.
The second was to apologise for New Zealand's early administration of Samoa covering the influenza epidemic of 1918, the shooting of unarmed Mau protesters by New Zealand police in 1929 and the banishing of matai (chiefs) from their homes. The apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in Samoa on the occasion of their 40th Anniversary of independence. In recent times we have reflected on the life of Nelson Mandela and his gift to his nation of truth and reconciliation.
It was a nation's chance for restorative justice – the chance to speak the truth, acknowledge what had been done, own up and take responsibility for personal actions, whether directed or otherwise, and to express sorrow and regret – a genuine apology for the wrongs that have been committed against others. Recording the history – laying down the truth - and apologising for wrongdoing is at the heart of our Treaty settlement process here in New Zealand. It is a firm foundation for building enduring relationships and creating unity.
Every one of you has your own story about what has brought you here. It is the culmination of those stories that adds another chapter to our history book as a nation. Each one of us or our ancestors made a journey to make Aotearoa New Zealand home - by waka, by ship or by plane - it is that journey that we all have in common and that is one of the foundation stones of our nation.
Sharing the stories of our journeys that brought us here enables us to build understanding which also builds enduring relationships and creates unity. That is why being here at Rapaki Marae on Waitangi day is so poignant. In Maori you will hear the expression tūrangawaewae literally 'a place to stand'. A place where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home. As new citizens you do not sever your ties with your home of birth; you bring your language, your culture, your history, your experience with you and you gain another home – a place where you can stand tall and proud – as a citizen. Congratulations to each of you. I wish you well on the next stage of your journey.
Because this is a day of firsts for me in my role as Mayor of Christchurch and for Rapaki Marae it is fitting to say: He kotuku rerenga tahi - A white heron flies once. "Kia ora, kia kaha. Go well and be strong."