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Dutch diplomat commemorates kingdom’s ties with Māori at Rātana

Alakihihifo Vailala

A European Kingdom join's in this year’s Rātana celebrations

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

For the first time, a European Kingdom is joining this year’s Rātana celebrations to commemorate its longstanding relationship with Māori.

Mr Martin van Buuren is the deputy head of mission for the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New Zealand and is feeling privileged to represent his country for the first time at Rātana.

“This is first time ever that the Kingdom of the Netherlands was represented at this event so to be here it’s such an incredible honour for me, for the Kingdom of the Netherlands,” says Buuren.

He also acknowledged that it was a honour to see the ship of famous Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, the Heemskerk, depicted on the Manuao whare at Rātana.

Tasman was the first European to arrive in New Zealand in 1642 and to make contact with Māori, he initially called the country Staten Land.

Busby connection

In 1695, Dutch cartographers renamed Aotearoa, Nova Zeelandia after the Dutch province of Zeeland which was subsequently anglicised by James Cook to New Zealand.

Selected as a kaikōrero at the pōwhiri, Buuren highlighted the relationship between Māori and the Dutch people.

Most notably, when a Māori war canoe, Te Hono ki Aotearoa carved by the late master carver Tā Hekenukumai Busby was gifted to the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, Netherlands in 2010.

Buuren says “we actually have a team of Dutch rowers who are trained by Māori to guard the waka, we are extremely proud of that”.

Only having arrived in New Zealand two weeks ago, Buuren spoke some te reo Māori during his speech at the pōwhiri.

“Unfortunately I haven’t mastered the Māori language yet but I have to admit that it is quite hard. But with some time, I can learn more and become better at Māori pronunciation”.

Plans to strengthen relationship

When looking at the future, Buuren hopes to strengthen the relationship between the Netherlands, Māori and people living in New Zealand and gain a wider understanding of his new home.

“We have plenty of activities in our planning for this coming year where we will try to strengthen our relationship with this country in many different fields like culture, economic fields and the political fields.”

“I am very much looking forward to contributing to that together with my colleagues at the Embassy.”

Hero image: Netherlands deputy ambassador Martin van Buuren had only been in Aotearoa for two weeks when he spoke at the Ratana celebration. Photo / Whakaata Māori

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