So what I really want to know is, was it worth it?
One part of me can see that its the right of the Te Tii Marae to charge the media to go on, as far as I can see no one else is being refused entrance and in some ways by not having the media there might help defuse the inevitable scene that Waitangi day usually becomes.
On the other hand they were not banning the media, they were charging it and its the medias right to refuse an obvious attempt at extortion (and they should because once you give in and pay once you will always pay).
Trying to turn Waitangi day into a pay-per-view like the rugby only works if its something that people actually want to see and for most Kiwis Waitangi day is mostly a day off work and not really any positive expression about our nations background.
Certainly we are not glued to our sets or breathlessly waiting for the next article in the media to keep us informed.
At its best Waitangi Day is a day to celebrate our shared history but usually the best is not what Waitangi day is about and its becoming clear that attitudes on both sides of the line are hardening towards the kind of intractability that makes things difficult if not impossible to resolve.
I think that addressing Maori grievance regarding the treaty issues is important but when Maori also make up a large percentage of negative demographics as well (think prison, health, wages etc) then Waitangi is less a day to celebrate and more one to forget because a treaty is usually the document signed to formally end a war and help start build the new peace between former combatants, not be the cause for further conflict.
Unfortunately it seems that the Treaty was singed and that's was it, done and dusted, one part ugly colonial legacy, another endless cause for grievance by tribal leaders but mostly irrelevant to the previously mentioned Maori who are living in poverty and ill circumstance.*
NZ needs a national day but its clear that Waitangi Day is not it.
I know my history on NZ pretty well, I know about the conflict between tribes that lead to the Treaty and the subsequent Land Wars that followed due to expansion by English settlers and I know that despite all attempts by the English to dominate the Maori through force they never succeeded (in large part to Maori being excellent fighters and tacticians) and then the subsequent encroachment by stealth and numbers which finally overwhelmed Maori over time.
I know about the Land marches and Bastion point and the revival of Maori culture and language and all in between.
But what strikes me about all Kiwis regardless of our heritage is that we either have very divergent views on Waitangi and all it represents or treat it as the extra respite from work that it is.
The thing is we cant go back in time and fix things but we keep on trying, there is no forward in this space that is really enduring or constructive if this is still whats happening.
On the other hand I know that a lot of people (Maori included) don't agree with the charge or the attitude of keeping the media out.
So was Te Tii Marae just having a go or trying to make a point, whats going on there?
I do not think Waitangi or our history should be obscured or forgotten but instead its should be acknowledged and be relevant but instead its being ignored and marginalized as an excuse to have an extra day off work and nothing more.
Keeping out media to an event that really only matters to a select few politicians, the media itself and a limited number of interested parties while the rest of the nation enjoys the weather, does some gardening and makes the best use of the extra free time is not a good way to keep an already marginal national holiday relevant.
So was it worth it?
*-Among the Maori that I know and associate with (including those well set inside tribal hierarchy and agencies like Te Puna KOkiri) few see Waitangi as a reason to celebrate outside it being an extra day off for them also.