You could argue that New Zealand has two ‘national’ days. Waitangi Day is when we (supposedly) acknowledge the founding of our nation and the agreement between Maori and the Crown. ANZAC Day, while ostensibly being about remembering people who have served and fallen in past years, also seems to be becoming about remembering an event which is often seen as a key moment when our nation came of age. Although ANZAC Day is supposed to be about remembering New Zealanders have served in all wars, often the primary focus seems to be on the Gallipoli campaign. Many people talk about Gallipoli as the moment when New Zealanders started to think of themselves as New Zealanders rather than as citizens of the British Empire, and indeed as the point in time when we started to question the ability of British generals (and by extension British rulers) to make decisions on behalf of New Zealand troops (and by extension people).
I’d suggest that this ‘founding of a nation’ message of ANZAC Day is not as strong here as it is in Australia, but it’s definitely present.
In that context, I thought it would be interesting to ask New Zealanders which of those two days meant more to them – ANZAC Day or Waitangi Day. The question was asked in a SAYit online survey of n=1000 New Zealanders, conducted in late March / early April 2013. The question was simply ‘which means more to you personally – ANZAC Day or Waitangi Day?’:
- 60% said that ANZAC Day meant more to them personally than Waitangi Day
- Just 8% reported that Waitangi Day meant more to them than ANZAC Day
- 29% said that both were equally important
- 2% were unsure.