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Waitangi Day 2021: Message from ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith

1 February 2021

News and media


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Every year on 6 February, Aotearoa – New Zealand observes Waitangi Day, the national day of New Zealand, which commemorates the signing of modern Aotearoa’s foundation document – the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti O Waitangi).

The Treaty was signed by the British Crown and about 540 Māori rangatira (chiefs) in 1840 at Waitangi, Northland and aimed to protect the rights of Māori to keep their land, forests, fisheries and treasures while handing over sovereignty to the British.

The establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 has provided a legal framework for the restitution of claims by Māori, who believe there was a breach of the Treaty principles of partnership, participation and protection. More than 2000 claims have been lodged with the tribunal, and major settlements have been reached recognising the claims of many iwi (tribes). Other settlements are still in negotiation.

Waitangi Day is commemorated as a public holiday with official, community and whanau (family) events across New Zealand, which highlight and celebrate Māori culture and the relationships and partnerships between Māori and Pākehā (non-Māori).

The day is also a chance to reflect on the importance of meeting the Treaty obligations and an important time to look forward as a nation which formally recognises its full history, while striving to meet Treaty obligations.

The principles of the Treaty are incorporated into the laws of New Zealand and the work of the New Zealand public service. The 2020 Public Services Act recognises the responsibility of the Public Service to support the Crown to fulfil its responsibilities under the Treaty and holds agencies accountable for meeting those responsibilities.

One of the principles involves working together in genuine partnership with iwi, hapū (sub-tribes), whānau and Māori communities, the focus and theme that ANZSOG will be addressing in the upcoming Proud Partnerships in Place: 2021 First Peoples Public Administration Virtual Conference.

The conference will look at the importance of partnerships between Indigenous agencies, communities and governments, for delivering improved outcomes. It will unpack and celebrate the successes we are already seeing across Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand, and challenge participants from public services, the NFP and other sectors, and communities to think beyond the way things have always operated.

It will look at the strengths of Indigenous communities and how Indigenous knowledge, local community decision-making and new relationships with government and the public purpose sector can be mobilised to meet the needs of communities and address broader social and environmental issues.

The conference will include strong representation from Aotearoa-New Zealand with Māori speakers including Supreme Court Judge Justice Sir Joe Williams; Chairman Runanga o Ngāti Toa, Dr Taku Parai; Poutiaki Director Te Ao Māori NZ Treasury, Trevor Moeke; NZ Deputy Police Commissioner Iwi and Communities, Wally Haumaha and Deputy Chief Judge Māori Land Court, Justice Caren Fox. Confirmation from several other prominent Māori speakers is pending. Registrations for the conference are open until Tuesday 16 February.

The New Zealand Government has been one of the owner governments of ANZSOG since our inception in 2002 and our work in Aotearoa is an important part of our mission to improve public sector leadership and create public value for all New Zealanders.

To all our New Zealand colleagues, alumni and friends we say: Kia pai to ra – have a great day.

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