Press Release – Newmarket Business Association
In the wake of moves to ‘Monday-ise’ Public Holidays which fall on weekends, Newmarket Business Association Chief Executive, Ashley Church, has renewed the call for the establishment of a new National Day to celebrate New Zealand’s identity …8 February 2012
Newmarket calls for new National Day
In the wake of moves to ‘Monday-ise’ Public Holidays which fall on weekends, Newmarket Business Association Chief Executive, Ashley Church, has renewed the call for the establishment of a new National Day to celebrate New Zealand’s identity as an independent nation. He says that New Zealand is ‘virtually alone’ amongst nations in not having an ‘independence day’ and that the time is long overdue for this to be rectified.
He says that he respects the role of Waitangi Day as an important step toward nationhood but contends that the treaty does not underpin our identity as a sovereign state.
“The treaty was an important agreement between Maori and the British Crown and it established a relationship between those parties – but it was primarily concerned with recognising Maori as British subjects, and acknowledging the governing role of the Westminster based parliament in England. In that respect, it was essentially a truce with an occupying power – not the founding document of a modern nation.”
Mr Church says that, in his view, our national day should be based around an event which clearly commemorates our independence and he believes that there are three possible candidates which fit this definition.
“The first of these is the granting of the vote, to women, on the 19th of September 1893 – making New Zealand the first country in the world to offer a universal right to vote to all citizens over the age of 21.”
Mr Church says that, although it wasn’t strictly a recognition of our independence, the granting of universal suffrage in 1893 makes New Zealand the oldest universal democracy in the world – far older than the US and the United Kingdom, which didn’t give women the right to vote until the 1930s.
He says that the second possible date is the little known ‘Dominion Day’ – the 26th of November 1907 – the day on which New Zealand was granted significant autonomy from the British.
“This one is quite a strong candidate because the day is already officially recognised. It just isn’t currently celebrated.”
Mr Church says that the third strong contender for a National Day of independence is the 25th of November 1947 – the day on which the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act was passed – formally recognising New Zealand’s full autonomy.
“The Brits actually passed the enabling legislation for this Act in 1931 – but pro British sentiment was strong, in New Zealand, at the time – and it took a further 16 years before the New Zealand parliament had the political courage to formalise it.”
Mr Church says that his personal preference is November 26 1907 but that the debate should be opened and that all views and positions should be considered.
“This is a great debate to be having! New Zealand is a fiercely proud nation with a long and impressive list of achievements to celebrate. It’s time we consolidated all of that into our own Independence Day.”