Waitangi Day celebrations highlight history

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National day ... People gather for Waitangi Day celebrations at Otakou Marae this year. PHOTO: PAUL POPE

The Voice: Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope.

When you live on the Otago Peninsula, you are living in a rich cultural and historical landscape that extends over the many generations, whose descendants are part of our community today.

The peninsula sits on a crossroads of historical people and events that defines not only our community but gives its name, Otakou, to the very region we live in.

I’m always reminded of this at the Waitangi Day celebrations, held recently at Otakou marae. The celebrations held every three years at Otakou are an important reminder that the Treaty document was actually signed here in June, 1840, as it was taken around the country on the naval vessel HMS Herald for signing by other chiefs.

The history of the Treaty in New Zealand has not always been a happy one and even today we still must face up to the realities of its requirements and acknowledge its place in the way we live together.

Significantly, we should be reminded it is a foundation of partnership and a pathway to lead us forward collectively and individually.

Among the things I enjoy about Waitangi Day at Otakou is that I meet old acquaintances I don’t see very often and I meet people I have not met before. In the warm embrace of the marae, the opportunity to enjoy the company of people is a highlight for me.

The cultural celebrations of the many different organisations at Otakou were a wonderful addition to this year’s event.

What impressed me was that many of the participants in those groups were young people who were proud of who they were and where they come from. There is a lesson to be learned from that and a reminder that it will be those young people who will carry the mantle of partnership into the future.

As the new year advances, our community moves into the annual plan rounds for both Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council.

Both plans set the course of expenditure and actions for the coming year.

It is critical that communities engage with the submission process and collectively tell their councils what their priorities are. If you want better road crossings in Macandrew Bay or pedestrian safety in Tomahawk, put pen to paper and tell the city council that.

Don’t sit back and think that everyone else will do it for you. The community board naturally does, but it needs you to work with it and find your voice.