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Celebrating 57 years of self-governance

Friday 5 August 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National


Celebrating 57 years of self-governance
Members of the Boys Brigade at Constitution Day celebrations. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22080439

Dignitaries, members of the public, Te Maeva Nui dance groups and visitors gathered at the National Auditorium yesterday to mark the Constitution Day – 57 years of self-governance from New Zealand.

Fresh from retaining his seat in the 2022 general election, caretaker Prime Minister Mark Brown in his address said: “It is 57 years now since we became a sovereign state with the ability to choose our own leaders, enact our own laws and to govern ourselves, to be recognised as a nation. Before that New Zealand governed us for 65 years and before that we were a British Protectorate and before that we were individual islands ruled by the Ariki of the time.”

“On Monday, our election day – thousands of us cast a vote for who we wanted to represent us and to govern us. Some may take for granted this right that we have to choose our leaders. But let us not forget our grandparents, our parents and some of you today that 57 years ago you could not vote for our country. So, this right to vote is something that was held dear to everyone in 1965, to finally have our own voice heard and our own people to represent us on each of our islands, and to gain our independence as a nation.”

The Constitution Day coincides with the weeklong Te Maeva Nui cultural festival which is being held at the National Auditorium.

Reflecting on this year’s Te Maeva Nui theme “Traditional Medicine of our Community and Island”, Brown said recognising the value of our traditional medicine in maintaining lifelong good health and utilising the traditional resources of our environment for the good of the community, is also a good demonstration of the essence of ta’okotai’anga, or togetherness.

Pastor Ngarima George performed the traditional turou welcome, the chairman of the Religious Advisory Council (RAC) Pastor Bobby Matapo led the prayers before caretaker Minister of Culture George (Maggie) Angene addressed the crowd.

Each year on Constitution Day, the Boys Brigade conduct the outstanding job of the raising and lowering of the flag and this year was no different. Te Maeva Nui teams of Mitiaro and Mauke entertained the audience and after the formalities a hearty lunch was served for everyone to enjoy.