Have all members of Parliament taken the day off, on this Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day?
We ask because there were some objections to the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day Bill, when all stages were passed under urgency into law last Tuesday.
The legislation created a one-off public holiday to mark the end of the 70-year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The holiday is taking place today, the day of New Zealand’s State memorial service for the Queen.
When a party vote was called for on the question that urgency be accorded the Bill, Labour (64 votes); National (33); the Green Party (10) and Gaurav Sharma voted in favour.
ACT (10) and Te Paati Māori (2) voted against.
ACT leader David Seymour acknowledged that Queen Elizabeth II was an outstanding leader, an inspiration to hundreds of millions of people across the Commonwealth and somebody we should greatly respect, admire, and now miss.
But he asked if she would support
“.. what amounts to a political stunt—having a public holiday paid for by employers up and down this country who have suffered enough. I would say that it’s totally possible to honour the Queen and oppose this holiday. In fact, for many reasons, it is the only consistent and correct position.”
The only time there had been spontaneous or bespoke public holidays were at the end of the two world wars in 1918 and 1945, Seymour said.
We had no such holidays when previous monarchs had died.
Other considerations raised by Seymour:
- The cost of the public holiday.
“I was astonished to hear a member of the National Party say, ‘”Look, we think it’s a good idea, but we offer our sympathy to those employers who will pay $450 million.’
- The care of the sick.
In Wairarapa, for example, 488 procedures were being postponed and one GP clinic had cancelled 122 appointments.
Several people had approached him to say kids who were trying to make up for lost learning after two years of disruptive disruption caused by COVID-19 would be taking another day off – not just any day, but the Monday in the last week of term before they have a two-week holiday anyway.
- “Voodoo” economics.
Seymour quoted Labour Michael Wood as saying:
“Don’t worry, because if we have a public holiday, there will be more spending.”
A dollar that is spent on a public holiday is a dollar that cannot be spent on another day, Seymour countered.
Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi had different reasons for opposing the Bill.
Among them, he contended sovereignty over tangata whenua in New Zealand had never been ceded.
Here’s the Hansard draft record of what he said:
- RAWIRI WAITITI (Co-Leader—Te Paati Māori):
[Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Like I said last week, our tikanga is clear: that we give time for whānau to grieve their losses, whether they be whānau, friends, allies, or even enemies. I have honoured our tikanga by giving her family time to mourn.
But, now, I am released of this tikanga, to express the past and current grievances of tangata whenua and other indigenous peoples all over the world at the hands of the Crown, headed by Queen Elizabeth II of England. We must acknowledge the brutal genocidal and ongoing impact of colonialism, of the imperial project that was overseen by the house of Windsor and its forebears, here in Aotearoa and around the world.
It is said that at its height, the sun never set on the British Empire. It’s hard to fathom, but that one statement is built on the backs of millions of indigenous peoples around the world. The sun never set on their colonialism, on their racism, and on their violence. The Crown was built on stolen assets and exploitation of tangata whenua and indigenous peoples all over the world. We cannot support this holiday. This holiday is a torturous and an insulting reminder for us. She said the Treaty has been imperfectly observed, but never tried to remedy this by honouring tangata whenua and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Article 1 consented to kāwanatanga, not sovereignty. Article 2 recognised the pre-existing rights of tangata whenua, our full and exclusive rights to our undisturbed possessions of our lands, estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties—our taonga.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Waititi, I’ll just remind you, we are here to debate a bill. You’ve had two minutes, now, and I’d ask you, please, to now concentrate the rest of your time on the bill we’re debating here, today.
RAWIRI WAITITI: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is everything to do with this bill. This is a holiday for Queen Elizabeth II, the sovereign of England.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, and that’s what I’m asking you to debate, please, Mr Waititi. So if you carry on—feel free to carry on, but please refer your comments to the bill before the House, which are around the holiday. So carry on, please.
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have just been listening to colleagues across the House, who have talked about agriculture, about their time in police, about police dogs—this kaupapa is extremely relevant. It was the Crown who are the Tiriti partner.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please confine your comments, or reference your comments, around the holiday, and you’ll be keeping within the Standing Orders. So carry on.
RAWIRI WAITITI: Article the Third states, “In [considering] thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects.”—”imparts”.
Therefore, I declare, on behalf of te Iwi Māori, that Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, and her predecessors and successors have never had sovereignty over tangata whenua here in Aotearoa. We are her equals as affirmed emphatically in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Here’s a question a pose to this House: why for the Queen of England, and not for the Māori Queen Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu and many other significant figures of te Iwi Māori? Matariki, National did not support. Fifteen years we waited, since 2009 when Rahui Katene first presented that bill to this House. They could not support that. But they support a holiday that is going through this House in one night. It’s absolutely—I don’t get it. At least ACT is consistent and do not support the one-off holiday, as they did with Matariki.
If you look at our founding covenant as a marriage between ngā rangatira o ngā hapū Aotearoa and the Crown, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a child of that marriage. It’s time tangata whenua and tangata ti tiriti take full custody of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi from the Crown.
This won’t mean the Crown is off the hook. If a couple gets divorced, you do not lose responsibility. There’s talking over there because they will not allow indigenous peoples to have their voice at this time. This will be an opportunity to reimagine a more meaningful and fulfilling partnership between tangata whenua and tangata ti tiriti.
It’s time for Māori to assert our rights to self-management, self-determination, and self-governance over all our domains. It’s time to remove the British royal family as head of State and move towards to an Aoteroa hou, a Tiriti o Waitangi-based nation in the Pacific.
Therefore, it is time for tangata whenua and tangata tiriti to have an adult and mature conversation about how we realign the relationship through Te Tiriti o Waitangi to create a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa, to create a constitution based on our founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Until then, we will never have peace. Nor will the Crown, the royal family, or, for that matter, Pākehā in Aotearoa, have any honour in the eyes of tangata whenua or to iwi Māori. The Māori Party—Te Paati Māori—absolutely and unequivocally do not support this bill. Kia ora tātou.