The Royal Family has taken to Twitter to send ‘best wishes’ to Kiwis on Waitangi Day in a series of tweets in Te Reo Māori and English.
“E mihi ana ki te hunga katoa e whakanui ana i tēnei rā nui o Aotearoa, i #TeRāoWaitangi,” the first post read, followed by “Best wishes to everyone marking New Zealand’s national day, #WaitangiDay,” shortly after.
The tweet comes amid heated debate about the future of Aotearoa's relationship with the monarchy. During Waitangi commemorations yesterday Te Pāti Māori called for a ‘divorce’ from the Queen as head of state, while slamming the Prime Minister for paying tribute to Elizabeth II for her 70 year reign.
"Whilst the PM pays tribute to a Queen we are trying to divorce, whose people have consistently dishonoured Te Tiriti o Waitangi, our thoughts are with our own rangatira and our own tīpuna who were slaughtered at the hands of her people, our people who have continued to fight against the oppression that her monarch represents for us, fighting against constant breaches of the Treaty,” Māori Party co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.
In her statement PM Ardern thanked the Queen for her ‘deep personal interest in the life and wellbeing of our nation.’
“Today the Queen has reigned for 70 years. She became Queen on February 6, 1952, and today marks the beginning of a year of celebrations of her platinum jubilee, as well as the day we remember and celebrate our nation’s founding document.”
Restore tangata whenua
Ngarewa-Packer branded the statement ‘tone deaf’, reiterating previous calls for the country to leave the commonwealth.
“The only way this nation can work is when Māori assert their rights to self-management, self-determination, and self-governance over all our domains. Our vision is for constitutional transformation that restores the tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua in this country,” Ngarewa-Packer said.
Response to Te Pāti Māori’s call has been mixed with many questioning how the Te Tiriti relationship with the crown would evolve; but Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi says he believes the crown’s legal commitments would remain, even after such a divorce.
“It won’t mean the Crown is off the hook. If a couple gets divorced, you don’t lose responsibility for your child. This will be an opportunity to reimagine a more meaningful and fulfilling partnership, between tangata whenua and tangata tiriti.” He said.
The posts shared to the Queen’s twitter last night that featured an image of the 95 year-old monarch alongside the Duke of Edinburgh during their Aotearoa visit in 1953 have been liked or shared some 5000 times, but numerous commenters are also questioning the validity of the monarch’s role in modern day Aotearoa.
“My mother was 19 years old, watched the young queen pass by, waving a small Union Jack that was handed out.
She feels Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand should leave the monarchy now, these independent nations, it’s time.” one wrote.
The monarch divorce question comes days out from Te Pāti Māori presenting a petition to parliament to officially rename the country Aotearoa and return place names across the motu to their original te reo Māori names.