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 special guests who have come to support this occasion.
Members of Parliament Hon. Ruth Dyson, MP and Eugenie Sage, MP
Councillors Andrew Turner, Jimmy Chen, Yani Johanson and David East
Mary Richardson, the director of the office of the Chief Executive of the city council
Dr. Surinder & Mrs Achna Tandon, President of the Multicultural Association
I wish to thank Te Hapu o Ngati Wheke again for their manaakitanga. You have again made us feel very welcome and made this a special day for us all.
I particularly welcome the 30 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. It was poignant to read some of your stories in the paper this morning. The sense of relief that refuge is available so far from the place you were once not frightened to call home and the sense of opportunity that came with finding a place in the world you could freely choose to make your home.
Holding a Citizenship Ceremony on the Marae on Waitangi Day has become a tradition over the years and one that I truly value. It is both an honour and a privilege.
May I welcome all the family and friends who have joined us on this special day to support you. The fact that you are here is meaningful to the candidates – thank you on their behalf for your support on this special day.
And now we come to the official part of the ceremony.
Before we hear a message from the Department of Internal Affairs, may I be the first to officially congratulate you as New Zealand citizens.
I hope you will always remember this occasion.
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.
Last year 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 13 years ago 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.
At the end of 2013 we 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 and today we commemorate 175 years since the signing of that Treaty began.
As I mentioned before we read of two stories in the paper this morning. 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 - our foundation, our place in the world, our home.
Some of you have had to give up your citizenship of your place of birth in order to take up citizenship here. Let me say that as new citizens none of you severs your ties with your home of birth; you bring your language, your culture and your history with you and you nurture them in your children.
And we, the wider community, are all enriched by your experience 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.
Ngā mihi nui me te aroha nui. Congratulations and best wishes. Kia ora, kia kaha. Go well and be strong. No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena ra tatou katoa.