Now commemorating its 184th anniversary, Waitangi has not only imbued the spirit of unity and togetherness but also the inclusive nature of values, people, language, and culture.
Sharing togetherness with the Waitangi community
During the Waitangi Day reception held at Fairmont Makati, New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Fata Peter Kell highlighted the spirit of partnership and understanding between the Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand.
“As we commemorate Waitangi Day, we also reflect on the lessons and impacts. Lessons of unity, equality, and mutual respect. Let us embrace this opportunity to acknowledge and deepen existing friendships, and forge new ones,” said Ambassador Kell.
Reflecting upon the relations between New Zealand and the Philippines, the New Zealand envoy added that both countries are “two partners that share not only a history of diplomatic relations but also a commitment to building bridges of friendship and understanding. Our cooperation spans a variety of sectors including trade, education, development, and defense.” He also underscored the steadfast support and assistance of New Zealand to the Philippines, beyond humanitarian efforts, people-to-people exchange, and mutual cooperation.
Meanwhile, DFA Undersecretary Gary Domingo shared that the NZ-Philippines will celebrate their 60 years of friendship in 2026. Usec. Domingo explained that “progress and the primacy of peace in the neighborhood lies in our common, unrelenting observance of the rules-based order governed by international law and informed by the principles of equality and justice”.
“New Zealand’s multicultural inclusive nature draws from the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi. It is a spirit that I have shared with Philippine society and governance. The treaty is indeed a world model as a framework for reconciliation, cooperation, synergy, and development between communities,” said Usec. Gary.
Moreover, DFA’s Undersecretary Jesus “Gary” Domingo highlighted that as two maritime nations, the robust relationship between NZ-PH centralizes on the word: Cooperation. He mentioned that New Zealand serves as one of the country’s leading trading partners, being our 39th export destination.
As a former Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, he proudly shared having 250,000 Filipino community during his stint as envoy. “Filipinos have shared their gifts and love and care not only in terms of professions and work but also as in faith that our churches are filled with Filipinos on Sundays,” he said.
The New Zealand envoy was joined by the Department of Foreign Affairs Usec. Gary Domingo and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown for a ceremonial toast.
Showcase of talent and cooperation in Phl
Aside from speaking and singing in Tagalog, Amb. Kell also prepared special performances with the rest of the embassy team. Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi, a folk song that means people coming together — where everyone shall be united, one, and have strength in diversity; and also Pōkarekare Ana which is a traditional NZ love song written in the Māori language.
Ambassador Kell expressed his profound love and appreciation to the Filipino community as he announced the soon conclusion of his mission in the Philippines. To show such gratitude and appreciation, he serenaded the vicinity with a Tagalog song, “KAYA”, in a duet with Ms. Gherns Calina.
As I wandered my eyes across the venue, I noticed the touch of nature design filled with a ‘silver fern’ / Cyathea dealbata – ponga in te reo Māori – a type of species of tree fern only found in New Zealand. Enveloped within the welcoming embrace of NZ culture, I am captivated by nature’s bounty as well as the deeply ingrained values of the people.
Looking back, this has also been showcased through the spearheading of former Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, Ambassador Domingo himself by being one of the #VAMBA students in 2022, where he shared with us via Zoom the music of Melodika – NZ group of artists with Pinoy hearts who happen to love Original Pilipino Music (OPM).
Having loved ones nestled in the heart of Aotearoa, I wholeheartedly affirm the enduring bond between Māori and Filipino cultures. Likewise, the profound NZ-Philippine friendship is imbued with respect for uniqueness, appreciation of diversity, and a warm embrace toward intrinsic worth.
May these bonds of New Zealand-Philippine ties continue to thrive and grow like a tree, transcend boundaries swiftly in the air, and enrich lives like a steady river.
What resonates with me is the statement of Usec. Gary Domingo and I quote, “We give due importance and we honor the indisputable role of our indigenous peoples — as wardens of culture and tradition, sentinels of the past, living treasures of the present, and custodians of the learnings of the future.”