There are twelve days in each calendar year, where the first flag of this nation is officially flown on the flag pole overlooking Russell. However something different happened on Thursday March 10 of last week as a result of the Royal New Zealand Navy not turning up to complete their annual task.
Due to a no show by the Navy on this particular morning the first flag of this nation was subsequently raised upside down on Maiki hill overlooking the Bay of Islands.
Koro Jim Wikotu (Te Upokorehe), says “Perhaps we're a bit early this morning but I was invited (by the Navy) to be here at ten o'clock today to meet them, in order to discuss the reasons why I flew this flag upside down at Waitangi this year. I've already told the Navy that my actions at Waitangi are a distress signal to my sister Queen Elizabeth of England that I am being ....by her government.”
The event has brought together those who work in the spiritual realm, along with an array of Māori sovereignty groups. Despite their differing perspectives the issue of the TPP currently being promoted by Government has brought them together.
“It's a distress call to the Navy because the police are not helping matters with our security and our interests in land that's being threatened with TPPA. In New Zealand which is being overlooked as being the Government can do what it likes not so,” says John Wanoa (Ngati Porou).
Wikotu says, “John Key is treating us like slaves and so I told the people of my hapū that it ends here. We're going to Waitangi to send a message to the Navy fleet to take this matter to England. That’s the reason why I came here. I've come here under the banner of the people of Mataatua waka and I’m giving this notice to all the ancestral canoes of this land.”
From the information Te Kaea has been able to gather this was one of the flags presented by James Busby before hereditary chiefs at Waitangi on 10 March 1834. It wasn't until March 20 that this flag was adopted as the nation’s first flag. Te Kaea
has requested information from the New Zealand Navy on the significance of these dates in present day New Zealand, while those gathered here believe this flag still retains its significance.
Wanoa says, “It's a signal that the Navy has to act in our defence and act in our interests of land. Land is at stake and so the hapū has to react with what the iwi is doing with the land. The iwi is an ownership of the Crown corporations and so they've taken as much as they can out of the land and haven't left much for the hapū. The hapū wants accountability that hasn't been done yet until today.
“My flag still flies upside down because we're yet to complete discussions on the issue that was began at Waitangi this hear. And while its not finished perhaps by doing what we've done here today our lands will be returned to us. Thats the crux of the matter. We've done this under the banner of the Mataatua ancestral canoe and come here along with representatives of all the ancestral canoe which is awesome.” Says Wikotu
It’s a place made famous for the three times the flag pole here was chopped down by Ngāpuhi chief Hone Heke. We have tried to reach the Royal New Zealand Navy for comment on this issue, they are yet to respond.