Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s speech at Waitangi Day 1973 was notable for several reasons. He announced that the commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi would in future be a public holiday, and that it would be known as New Zealand Day. The name change was intended to ensure that all New Zealanders, regardless of ethnic background, would regard the occasion as their national holiday. When the first New Zealand Day was celebrated in 1974, much was made of the fact that New Zealand had acquired several other large ethnic groups. There were later objections that the name change obscured the historical significance of the occasion, and in 1976 the name Waitangi Day was reinstated. Hear Norman Kirk give his perspective on national identity in 1973.
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