Waitangi Day reflections on New Zealand – Vietnam Partnership

The ambassador of New Zealand to Vietnam, Tredene Dobson, has written an article on the occasion of New Zealand's Waitangi Day (February 6).
Waitangi Day reflections on New Zealand – Vietnam Partnership ảnh 1The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6, 1840 (Photo: nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/the-signing-of-the-treaty)

Hanoi (VNA) - The ambassador of New Zealand to Vietnam, Tredene Dobson, has written an article on the occasion of New Zealand's Waitangi Day (February 6).

The following is the full text of the article.

"All countries are unique – they all have a thousand big and small things that make them special. And most countries have a national day where the people of that nation come together to celebrate those special attributes and qualities.  One of the things that makes Aotearoa New Zealand unique is that we don’t have a national day – not officially anyway. Not one day set down in law – different to all of the other public holidays – that carries the weighty title of ‘national day’.

We do have ‘Waitangi Day’ though – a day so special and unique to our country that it is often regarded by international friends as our national day. Waitangi Day marks the signing of Te Tiriti – the Treaty of Waitangi, on February 6, 1840. A treaty, at international law, between the British Crown and a number of chiefs – leaders – representing our iwi (Māori tribes).

So while Waitangi Day is not our national day, nor a mark of a national independence like the second of September is for Vietnam, it does share a number of important characteristics with your traditional national days. For one, it is a moment to reflect – on the things that make us special – as a country and as a people. It is a moment to think about our history – the good, the bad and the ugly, and to think about what we collectively want for our future.

We live in challenging times – newspaper headlines around the world talk more of division than unity, so this Waitangi Day, I hope that New Zealanders, whether at home or abroad will take the opportunity to think about what Te Tiriti means for them. For me, Te Tiriti is fundamentally about partnership. Partnership between two peoples that made a decision that their future lay in coming together – that there was more to be gained by collaboration and cooperation than conflict.

This is not to forget the loss and pain that followed that day in 1840. After all, it is also what makes us a nation and something I believe has shaped what and who Aotearoa New Zealand is on the international stage – which as a diplomat is something I also think about every Waitangi Day.

We are a nation borne out of a treaty – a treaty at international law. A fact I believe imbued in our country the deep and abiding respect we have for the rules that govern statehood and our community of nations. Te Tiriti speaks of the important relationship between Māori (our indigenous people) and the natural world – lands, forestries, fisheries, and other less tangible treasures – including our language. This continues to guide our engagement on issues such as climate change, the environmental conventions and access to resources at international law. And while there may be some debate as to whether Te Tiriti is a human rights treaty (I wrote my final dissertation at university claiming it was – so I may be biased on that one), it is fundamentally a treaty about respect for people and their right to self-determination – the very basis of human rights.

And that brings us full circle back to partnership – because that is what I will choose to reflect on this Waitangi Day. Partnership is about riding together through the good times and the bad and hopefully – coming out stronger for it. Vietnam and Aotearoa New Zealand’s partnership is no different. Our history also marks times of challenge and conflict but our shared commitment to a better future for our people and our global community has been the driving force behind our actions and has long underpinned our bilateral relationship.

Waitangi Day reflections on New Zealand – Vietnam Partnership ảnh 2New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Tredene Dobson (Photo: VNA)

For many years now, we have been working together side by side, strengthening our people to people links both at the grassroots level (such as our long-standing support for healthworkers and volunteers through the New Zealand-Vietnam Health Trust, formed in 1997), and at the senior leaders level, as seen by the evolution in our diplomatic relations from a Comprehensive Partnership (2009) to a Strategic Partnership (2020). Our thriving relationship – across a wide spectrum of interests, including political, trade, agriculture, education, and disaster risk management, are based on our mutual priorities, common respect for international law and the rules-based order, and the complementary nature of our economies.

Last year - 2022 – was another important step in our bilateral relationship.  Our leaders came together in both Vietnam and New Zealand to discuss ways to enhance our partnership to ensure a future that is more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable. Our leaders discussed pathways for greater business to business collaboration – ensuring that we will reach (and hopefully even exceed) a two-way trade target of 2 billion USD; agreed areas where our mutual interests and capabilities provide the best opportunities for our younger generations – particularly in education; and drawing on our mutual strengths in key sectors – especially agriculture and aviation, and identified new areas for collaboration such as climate change, technology and digitalisation.

This Waitangi Day, I will enjoy reflecting on the New Zealand – Vietnam relationship which is an example of partnership at its best.”./.


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