Sunday, February 5, 2012

A new national identity?

Okay, so, if hadn't been working, then I might've gone, if I had somebody to go with. But that's more out of boredom and a lack of parties to go to than an actual desire to mark the occasion.

I was surprised when leaving the house yesterday (Saturday 04/02/12) to find a bit of a crowd of Kiwis at the tube station, but I eventually recalled there was a pub down the road hosting a Waitangi day celebrations. "Fair enough" I thought, and didn't think of it again. Upon coming home several hours later (early/mid afternoon) I was shocked by the rowdy crowd of drunks in the tube station. I had a small child in tow, and squeezing past the people dressed as sheep, cans of Double Brown and Tui (seriously people, get some taste!), the occasional Kiwi (bird) costume was no easy matter. Upon reaching the threshold of fresh air I discovered a scene of mayhem, beer and bottles spilled all over the street, a crowd so thick you couldn't get to the street to cross it, and general drunkeness. There was a lot of swearing and manners were entirely lacking- people stumbled in to us several times, with one apology in total. "shocked" is the only word I can really think to use when I saw that a whole street was closed off, a crowd of people spilling over it, police vans and a line of police fencing them in.

Now, I've not seen general, drunken pointlessness on a scale like this since my student days. At least in Dunedin you knew where they were and they stayed in the student quarter. Oh the reasons I never lived on, or anywhere near, Castle Street.

My point being, this disgusting display of drunkness was supposedly in the name of Waitangi day. Come on people. Since when did anyone celebrate Waitangi day, really? A long weekend at the end of summer maybe, but I don't ever recall doing anything to actually mark the occasion, merely taking advantage of a public holiday. It isn't even a public holiday here.

I'm not a patriotic person, and while I count myself a Kiwi, not a Brit, I felt entirely compelled to mention to a police officer I was speaking to (wanted to know how far the damage extended) that I was also a Kiwi, and not a drunk one.

I don't care about Waitangi day. It's a day that a piece of paper was signed some time ago which was of questionable legality then and has caused racial friction since. It is a national holiday, vaguely related to the formation of the nation state. Other countries have Australia Day, Independence day, or whatever. Meh.

Now Waitangi day will be etched in my mind as the first day that I was embarrassed to be a Kiwi.

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