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Waitangi and the Birth of New Zealand
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
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?
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?
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
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.