Prime Minister John Key used his annual address at Waitangi
to make the case for the day to keep its edge, warts and all,
but warned there was a danger extremists would destroy the
public goodwill that was critical for Treaty settlements to
Mr Key said previous governments and others had tried to
create a sense of ''national participation'' on the day.
''It would be good to see, but I'm not sure that we can or
should try to force it. We are not, by nature, a nation of
Labour leader David Shearer has used the past two Waitangi
Days to call for the day to be celebrated in a more positive
way, using Australia Day as an example.
However, there was no other day on which the weight of
history was felt quite so heavily, Mr Key said.
''It is marked across an emotional spectrum that ranges from
great passion among some of those gathered here, to
indifference from those Kiwis whose sole interest in the day
is encompassed by the weather forecast.''
The day was more forward-looking than in the past, partly
because of the Treaty settlements process, which had given
iwi the resources needed to run their own affairs, create
jobs and care for their people, he said.
However, those settlements largely relied on public goodwill
and acknowledgement the grievances were genuine, he said.
There was a risk the actions of ''permanently aggrieved''
protesters, including those at Waitangi, would endanger the
public consensus there was over the issue of settling
''Public goodwill should not be taken for granted. It needs
to be treated with respect. It is short-sighted and
counterproductive of activists to use tactics and language
which have the effect of eroding public support for
initiatives aimed at turning around the very situation that
the activists are complaining about.''
Mr Key also talked about economic development and improving
the educational achievement of Maori children.
He urged the Far North iwi to resolve their differences to
allow them to settle, saying that would add a critical
injection of funds to an area in which unemployment was a big
The Maori Party's willingness to work with National had also
helped build the relationship between iwi and the Government,