Thursday, February 06, 2014

New Zealand Day

I always wondered how New Zealand Day morphed into Waitangi Day.  I well remember when Norman Kirk (Big Norm) announced we would have a National Day.

I felt it was a great idea to encourage National pride. With the change of title our National Pride day seems to have turned into a National Day of guilt, sack cloth and ashes. How sad that something we all could have celebrated and been proud of was snatched away from us.

I found this information on Wikipedia.

New Zealand Day

In 1971 the Labour shadow minister of of Māori Affairs, Matiu Rata, introduced a private member's bill to make Waitangi Day a national holiday, to be called New Zealand Day. This was not passed into law. After the 1972 election of the third Labour government under Norman Kirk, it was announced that from 1974 Waitangi Day would be a national holiday known as New Zealand Day. The New Zealand Day Act 1973 was passed in 1973.

For Norman Kirk, the change was simply an acceptance that New Zealand was ready to move towards a broader concept of nationhood. Diplomatic posts had for some years marked the day, and it seemed timely in view of the country's increasing role on the international stage that the national day be known as New Zealand Day. At the 1974 celebrations, the Flag of New Zealand was flown for the first time at the top of the flagstaff at Waitangi, rather than the Union Flag, and a replica of the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand was also flown.

The election of the third National government in 1975 led to the day being renamed Waitangi Day because the new Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, did not like the name "New Zealand Day" and many Māori felt the new name debased the Treaty of Waitangi.[3] Another Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1976 to change the name of the day back to Waitangi Day.

All of  this made me think of a poem my Grandmother Susan Dassler wrote many years ago about Kiwis.


Why are we labelled Kiwis?

Where can we place the blame?

What charms has this unlovely bird,

That we should take his name?

He cannot fly  with ne’er a wing,

He has no voice – he cannot sing

No song of joy, no liquid note

Has ever issued from his throat.

He’s down-to-earth, and drab and shy

And he ne’er looks up towards the sky

He has no tail to flirt and spread,

To lure a mate into his bed.

He shuns the day, and while it’s light,

He sulks and lurks beneath the scrub,

But digs and delves throughout the night,

And he thinks of nothing but his grub!

He’s really neither smart or nimble-

Why do we make him our symbol?

Upon one point you’ll all agree-

He is UNIQUE and so are we!

by Susan Dassler

Grandma Dassler was a prolific writer. In hard times she wrote to earn money. The 2s 6d or 5 shillings she might be paid for a poem or a small story that was published helped to keep things going. I believe she wrote this poem for a Great Grand Daughter who was going overseas as an American exchange Student.

Be proud today New Zealanders.

PS If you would like to use this poem please acknowledge where you got it from – and Grandma D of course!


  1. So true Linda, protests, fish thrown and more, that all puts one race into disrepute, and for us New Zealanders, can we be proud of how this day is shown to the world? I would hope so. What a wonderful grandma, and to earn money from poems and writing, a real achievement then. My grandma knitted socks for the soldiers overseas, my Mum did dressmaking,, you quilt, and we have guests stay..., fond greetings to all, Jean.

  2. I think any day that celebrates National Pride is a wonderful idea. Sadly there are often protests or negative news articles about Australia Day too. I think we should all just get along and celebrate being lucky enough to live in such beautiful countries.

  3. The poem is wonderful and so are all my Kiwi friends! Happy New Zealand Day

  4. So interesting, and I love your Grandma's poem.


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