Nestled just north of Paihia you’ll come across arguably one of the most honoured and historically rich areas within New Zealand, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
After spending over a week in Auckland, my friend Tom and I ventured north to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands.
The weather was scorching and the atmosphere lively.
We already had a rough itinerary in our head of what we wanted to do in Paihia, but first of all, we had to check in to our hostel. We chose to stay with Cap’n Bob’s, near the quiet secluded section of the beach for a small break away from the livelier southern side.
It proved a wise decision as the hostel was friendly, clean, easily accessible and had a touch of character about it.
Bob himself was from Scotland, so as a couple of wandering Scotsmen ourselves, seeked refuge within his words of advice of how best to navigate the country.
He mentioned visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Luckily, we were already booked in to visit the grounds the following morning.
As one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions, I still wanted to learn more about the history of the Maori’s, how New Zealand became part of the British commonwealth and how legislation and democracy evolved within this community.
The day at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds answered all these questions and more.
What really hit me was the ever apparent theme of opening up dialogues and creating communication threads between different audiences.
The Maori’s were settled in their native ways and the British had aspirational plans for growth and connections. As Australia was one of New Zealand highest exporting countries, the British wanted to help New Zealand, and themselves, become more prosperous. This included convincing them to join the British commonwealth and to encourage a law of sovereignty.
But because of different cultures, languages and indeed laws and powers, it was difficult at first to achieve 100% transparency.
That’s why the Waitangi Treaty Grounds speak highly of complete honest and open communication and care.
This was a vital aspect in the signing of the Waitangi Treaty.
Without care and due diligence the first and arguably most important document in New Zealand history, might not have been legislated.
But because the correct routes, albeit not without ironing out some incorrect ones, had been taken, the majority of northern Maori tribes were happy and actually seen the benefit of helping one another become stronger. Stronger for their tribes, their families and indeed their health.
This theme continued throughout the day with a cultural performance at the end highlighted by the chief presenting a ‘gift’ to our group leader to distinguish him as either friend or foe.
It made me think that just because we speak different languages, doesn’t mean we have different fears and cautions.
Handing over a gift is their way of communicating friendship, or no harm to us. We accepted and reciprocated by giving a thank you speech – in arguably a very British/universal way.
I learned a lot from this day out at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
It made me realize that maybe sometimes if we used less words and threats, we might just get on a little bit better with one another.
By Nathan McGregor
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