Christmas Day, 1814. It is not too much to say, that without this the other could not have taken place; that without the influence of the missionaries there would not have been a Treaty of Waitangi. We have a trite Maori saying: ‘Ko te amorangi ki mua, ko te hapai O ki muri’, or The Emblem of Deity to the forefront, and the bearers of food in the rear. And so it was, in the face of opposition then and afterwards, the sacred Pact was made; and on February the 6th, 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Captain Hobson as the direct representative of Queen Victoria and the Maori Confederation of Tribes.
It is significant that the authorities of Turnbull Library in Wellington have thought it fit to house this Great Charter in a manner commensurate with its historical importance. And so to our two peoples in general, and the Maori people in particular, let this be said and stressed. It isn't what may be said at Waitangi that matters, but the significance of the occasion itself. Another Queen, the direct mokopuna of Queen Victoria, will set her ‘sacred feet’ (waewae tapu) on the marae at Waitangi. In accordance with the inscription in the Waitangi Meeting House, we shall be there also. The short ceremony of recognition will close with a brief service of Thanksgiving to Almighty God. The spirit of Waitangi lives, the Sacred Pact remains. It is for our two peoples to carry out that spirit into our lives now and in the days to come.
Lastly, there is the price of Citizenship. In the First World War the Maori was denied a place in the front lines, not because he was deemed unworthy, but because of a sentiment that he should be spared the decimation of modern warfare. In this last war he asked for his full share in the forefront of battle, and in this he has been fully indulged. Has he proved a claim to be an asset to this country? Has he paid the price of full citizenship in his own country and yours? Have the civilians of New Zealand, men and women, fully realised the implications of the joint participation of Pakeha and Maori in this last and greatest demonstration of the highest citizenship?
Our Queen comes to us as the First Citizen of our great and glorious Empire, and sets the seal on our full citizenship in this fair land of ours. Let us then be worthy and proud to share in the great and grand heritage that our forbears have handed down to us in this country.