Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has marked Waitangi Day virtually, acknowledging the challenges Covid-19 had posed, and how it had been 50 years since the te reo Māori petition was presented to Parliament.
Her message was delivered online, following the cancellation of multiple events this year due to the threat of the virus, and the country being in Red.
“While we always have more work to do - the mahi never ends - it is important to take time and reflect,” Ardern said from the capital.
“Across Aotearoa there are stories of our arrival, stories of settlement, stories of conflict and of unity, of hope and hardship.
“These stories are our stories. And learning, sharing and acknowledging these stories that trace back to many different shores is crucial to our connections to one another.”
She spoke of how 2022 marked 50 years since the te reo Māori petition was presented to Parliament.
“I am proud of the mahi, past and present, to ensure that this taonga is preserved, spoken and flourishing as a living language that connects us to our heritage here and throughout the Pacific.”
The Prime Minister also acknowledged the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I know it hasn’t always been easy. There were many clouds and at times they seemed so dark, that the sun could not shine through,” she said.
“But together we have, and we continue to, overcome.
“We managed to eliminate the virus long enough to give ourselves time to build up protection for ourselves, and for our whānau.”
Ardern added that despite having "formed a barrier to save our stories, and to protect our whakapapa", "the mahi is not done".
“Our journey together started from those voyagers from Hawaiki and Europe, and it has been shaped by our loved ones ever since.
“Today, we mark the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and our ancestors who signed this document.
“We mark their journey, and continue to make our own, one that defines our nation. A nation we can all be proud of.”
Ardern vowed to return to Waitangi in person when she could.