We owe it to the people who walked the land before us to honour the history.
We owe it to the people who walked the land before us to honour the history. Spud Murphy / CC-BY-2.0

No cause for celebrations this Saturday

I WILL not be celebrating this Saturday.

Australia owes it to the owners of the land, those who walked for hundreds if not thousands of years before western colonisation, to change the way indigenous culture is treated and valued in society.

I'm the first to admit, perhaps I am not qualified to speak on the topic.

But I can speak from my own experience.

Perhaps raise my voice as an outsider; someone with no ties to either camp.

I identify as New Zealand/Maori.

Yes, at initial look, I am Pakeha. I am 'white pig' as it literally translates.

But my whakapapa, my ancestors, runs much deeper than the pigment of my skin.

When I first moved here many people asked me if we had a New Zealand Day, like it was something to be proud of.

Like the best excuse for the biggest piss up of the year, as if you couldn't on any other day.

We don't have New Zealand Day. We have Waitangi Day, where the signing of Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840 is honoured, and respect is paid to the 180 years of contention that has followed. But we behave much differently.

From politicians to children, many are invited onto a Marae, a traditional meeting house, in the morning where they practise traditional customs.

Our Prime Minister heads to Waitangi, the birthplace of our treaty and the source of much contention.

It's treated more like Anzac Day than Australia Day.

Yes, we head to the beach, we enjoy a drink in the sun with our family, we go on adventures with family.

But it's no cause for celebration - it's a chance to express gratitude and enjoy time with our loved ones.

We do this with respect.

It's not to say that we do it better, or we do it right. It's to help you understand why Australia Day shocks me.

What does it even mean to be Australian any more?

Much of the national holiday seems to be spent at dunny races, drinking oneself senseless (a problem in itself), wearing flags with a Union Jack on them, of which the history debatably holds less significance then that of the country's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

I understand the tie to a European national identity.

New Zealanders are so often perceived as gumboot-wearing, rugby-playing, sheep lovers. Our Maori culture is often made into a novelty, with a cultural practice reserved for war appropriated as sport on an international stage.

The reality is, both Australia and New Zealand are much more than that.

There are people from all corners of the world coming together; we are multicultural nations with diverse societies.

We owe it to the people who walked the land before us to honour the history. Not just the parts that fit our personal narratives and help us get to sleep at night, but the good, the bad and the ugly.

It's only when we move past the denial that we will be able to move forward as one.