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Waitangi and the Birth of New Zealand

Updated on July 3, 2015

Why Waitangi day?

Actually this Hub is a bit of an explanation of what it means to live in New Zealand and how living here can change the way you see the world.

Probably a lot of folks reading this hub might have a vague idea of where New Zealand is (If you're coming from Europe then head past Australia and turn left, continue on for about six hundred miles and you'll come off the coast of New Zealand (though I don't recommend you try those directions if you're sailing as it's a mighty big ocean down there and it's the roughest this planet has to offer!). If coming from the US of A then head down to Santiago (Chile) and turn right, keep going for 8,000 miles and you'll come off the East coast of New Zealand.

Get the idea that it's pretty remote? It used to be. New Zealand was literally considered 'the end of the earth' when the first white people arrived here. Up until air travel was made common it would take a ship six weeks from Britain and three weeks from the USA (even a week from our nearest neighbor Australia!!) Yet people come and when they do something great happens, they find a place that no matter where you're from you're welcome.

Waitangi Day is the day we take out of the calender to celebrate the founding of New Zealand and what it means to live here in New Zealand. A place in this world yet far enough removed from it to be involved yet be happy to 'do their own thing' with a piece of number 8 wire and a bit of thinking.

Traditional Maori greeting

The Haka is part of many NZ traditions
The Haka is part of many NZ traditions | Source

Usain Bolt gets a traditional Maori greeting

Usain Bolt gets a traditional greeting

It's part of the culture here to greet someone with a traditional greeting, but I really don't think Usain Bolt knew what he was getting into with this. Part of the greeting is also a warning that to abuse their hospitality might result in serious consequences.

He's the worlds fastest sprinter, I wonder if he was tempted to put those skills to good use? Visiting a Marai and enjoying a 'Hangi' is an experience not to be missed when visiting NZ and that's why i went back and added this video. It just wasn't complete without it.

For the average Kiwi

Waitangi day has lost a bit of it's glamor in the last few years but it's still a holiday that Kiwi's enjoy. Most of the folks take the weekend to 'shut up shop' and head for the beach. Being three Islands (North Island where most of the population live, South Island the biggest and Stewart Island further south) the beach is never far away and most Kiwis need only the slightest excuse to pack up and head for the beach preferably with the boat in tow so that Dad can head out on the water for some fishing. We're one of the few Kiwi families that don't really head for the beach.

What about a walk by the River?

New Zealand's rivers are just as amazing and this place is just five minutes walk from our house.
New Zealand's rivers are just as amazing and this place is just five minutes walk from our house. | Source

Origins

Most westerners think that it was Captain James Cook who discovered Australia and New Zealand, but he didn't. The Europeans already knew that there was something down here, for three hundred years sailors coming round Cape hope would hit storms and be blown off course sometimes getting shipwrecked off what is now known as the coast of western Australia, they knew something was there.

In the 1640's a Dutch explorer by the name of Abel Tasman first sighted New Zealand but ran into trouble with the local Maori who engaged in Battle on the coast he left without landing. He was working for the Dutch East India company and was more interested in finding places to trade than to fight.

People in Europe knew there was a land down this way, they just didn't know if it was populated and how big it was!

By the 1760's the greatest nation of the seas was Britain who were also involved in navigation and one of the things that the scientific community was wanting to do was work out how big the earth was and how far away from the sun it was. One way to do this was to measure at different places on the globe the passing of the planet Venus across the face of the sun at certain times. For this task the best navigators available would be required to sail to various destinations and take the readings. The best navigator that the Royal Navy had was a self taught Captain James Cook who commanded the ship Endeavor.

After reaching the point where he was to take the measurements he opened the sealed secret orders he'd been given by the Admiralty that simply told him to head South West to find the believed continent and claim it for His Majesty. Thus Captain Cook became the first European to land on Australia's East coast and New Zealand.

The big difference was the way that the local populations interacted with the Europeans, in Australia the locals who'd been there since the flood just moved inland and stayed out of the way of the newcomers, but in New Zealand the locals stayed and interacted with them and at times were willing to defend themselves. New Zealand would be a very different place to its near neighbor.

What was Cook looking for?

Most people don't realize that when Cook sailed on the fateful voyage he actually carried Top secret orders to look for a continent
Most people don't realize that when Cook sailed on the fateful voyage he actually carried Top secret orders to look for a continent | Source

What's so special?

To me, probably the best thing about living here in New Zealand is actually the people. I'm a Brit here so I don't always see things the same way that a native Kiwi would see them but the diversity of cultures here is just phenomenal!

Hamilton isn't the biggest place in the country, it's in the top five but still only has a population of just over 120,000 yet in Hamilton there's about 200 languages spoken! I can walk down the street here and get English beer next to a place that serves Mongolian food and across from a place serving Mexican snacks. All of which is down the road from places catering to Chinese and Japanese tastes and all because of Waitangi!

You see Waitangi was where the treaty between the British crown and the local Maori tribes was signed on February 6th 1840. It wasn't something that the crown forced on the locals, it was the signing of two equal partners for mutual benefit and was understood that way from the start and that's what makes it unique!

There have been problems historically in that when the treaty was signed the British crown thought they were getting a 'one off' deal of a lifetime but the translation into Maori said that it was to be a living document capable of being re-interpreted in each generation and the locals aren't afraid to make the crown live up to that side of the bargain (hence the protests) but for the majority of folks it's a chance to celebrate the diversity that is New Zealand

No matter where they are, Kiwis bring something special (Look what they did Santa Monica beach!)

Land of contrasts

New Zealand isn't just a land of many cultures, it's also a land of many contrasts. I'm sure when God created the earth there were places that he made for people that were nice but the land that was to become New Zealand he put so far away from the rest that he could have fun creating the contrasts that dot the landscape.

New Zealand has been at the forefront of many things to do with conservation and preserving the precious diversity of life that the good Lord put on the earth but the amazing things you can see here is what makes it special.

Here are a few things you'll see if you get to visit these wonderful shores

A pod of Orcas just outside Auckland, New Zealand

Land of Contrasts, Rotorua

All filmed in New Zealand

Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown

My Home

This started out as a hub about Waitangi day, but the truth is Waitangi day was just the start. There's something about this place and people that makes it unique in the world. You can often tell a Kiwi by the way they act.

Kiwis know that New Zealand is a small place, but that doesn't worry them, they also know that they can match the best in the world at pretty much anything.

This is just a short hub to give you a bit of a taste New Zealand. Hope you enjoyed the hub and leave a comment.

If you came to NZ

If you came to NZ what would you most like to see or do?

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    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 21 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Venkatachari

      Cricket fans are the only people I know who'll spend two days on a train to go to a match!

      I'm not a great cricket fan but I think we understand the passion!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 21 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thanks for the further information. I know about cricket grounds there which are excellent as I mostly watch the plays on TV or on net. Rugby, I enjoy sometimes and not always. But cricket, I can not miss. I am a great fan of cricket since childhood.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 21 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Venkatachari

      They are good cricket players, we have an international ground here in Hamilton which is nice.

      New Zealand's main sport though is Rugby and no one can match the All Blacks.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      Lawrence

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 21 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Wonderful place with so many beautiful spots and adventurous places. Watched all the videos also and learnt many amazing things about New Zealand. Till now, I do not know anything about New Zealand except that they are good cricket players. I watch cricket matches and read all news about cricket all over the world.

      Thanks for sharing this great knowledge.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      You're welcome anytime

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Thanks for the introduction to such a magnificent place. I truly look forward to visiting.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Christchurch is known as the Garden City and is really beautiful. As you said since the earthquake they have been rebuilding but many of the old buildings that gave it character are no more. For me, living in Hamilton is great as it's got all the facilities of a big city but the friendliness of a small place. We're only an hour from the big city in Auckland, half an hour from the beaches and about an hour from Taupo.

      Glad the hub brought back good memories and I hope you have a great time next trip.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I love NZ; I've been 3 times. My partner's sister lives in Christchurch and he also has friends in the South and North Islands. Sadly Christchurch is not what it was and never will be but slowly it's rejuvenating. We did a treck in the North Island, round Lake Taupo and up into one of the logging routes on our way to New Plymouth to visit friends. Been across Arthur's Pass and up the West coast to the end of the road, as well as lots of other places, so I'm very lucky.

      Hopefully, we'll get over there again some time later this year.

      Great hub; brought back many memories and, yes, the people are friendly.

      Ann

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Larry

      Glad you enjoyed the hub and I hope it explained a little about this amazing place. But the country is only half the story, the people are amazing, It's the one country that really tries to be Bi-cultural in everything.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I always enjoy learning about New Zealand. It is a fascinating country.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Peachpurple. Just added a Maori traditional welcome for folks to see. take a look and enjoy it.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Interesting way to put it. It's actually a war challenge that they do at most sporting events especially if the National Rugby team is playing. It's called the Haka and it's enough to intimidate anyone.

      Glad it was memorable enough for you to remember (hopefully a happy memory)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      oh yes the dance and the wild face with sticking tongue. Saw that on TV