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Waitangi Day New Zealand's National Day

Updated on May 28, 2018
Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie is a kiwi living in New Zealand, enjoys sharing articles of her country. Land of the long white cloud. First country to see a new day.

The Flag Post by the Treaty House at Waitangi in New Zealand.

The flagstaff is flying (left – right) the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Ensign of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Union Flag.
The flagstaff is flying (left – right) the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Ensign of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Union Flag.

Waitangi Day - February 6 is recognized as New Zealand's National Day

Waitangi Day 2015 was the 175 anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi New Zealand's founding document, which was in 1840. It was on the 6th day of February 1840 when the Treaty was signed.

Waitangi is part of the Bay of Islands in the northern part of the North Island of New Zealand. It was made between Governor William Hobson on behalf of Queen Victoria and the Maori Chiefs who gathered there on that day. The Treaty of Waitangi was first written in the English language and then translated into the Maori language.

What is the Treaty of Waitangi?

It is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Maori Chiefs from the North Island and is often considered to be New Zealand founding document

From the British point of view, the Treaty gave Britain sovereignty over New Zealand and gave the Governor the right to govern the country.

Today it is generally considered the founding document of New Zealand as a nation. Despite this, the Treaty is often the subject of heated debate and much disagreement by both Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders.

The date of the signing has been a National holiday, now called Waitangi Day, since 1974. Waitangi Day underwent 'Monday isolation' in 2013, allowing the public holiday to be shifted to Monday if it falls on the weekend.

Although this is New Zealand's national day, the commemoration has often been the focus of protest by Maori activists and is often marred by controversy.

It makes me feel very sad as I would like to see us all getting on as one country, all people equal, whether we are white, brown or black skinned.

William Hobson

How did William Hobson come to be Lieutenant - Governor of New Zealand?

On 26 May 1837, he sailed to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, in response to a request for help from James Busby, the British Resident, who felt threatened by wars between Maori tribes.

On his return to England in 1838, Hobson submitted a report on New Zealand, in which he proposed that British sovereignty is established over New Zealand.

Hobson was appointed Lieutenant Governor by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps (ratified on 30 July 1839) and British consul to New Zealand (confirmed on 13 August 1839).

Waitangi Day

Traditional maori Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi, Paihia.
Traditional maori Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi, Paihia.

How is Waitangi Day Celebrated?

The main Celebrations are at Waitangi, which often commence the previous day, 5 February, at the Ngapuhi Te Tii marae, where political dignitaries are welcomed, where they have speeches, that often deal with the issues of the day, and vigorous and robust debate occurs.

At dawn on Waitangi Day, the Royal New Zealand Navy raises the New Zealand Flag, Union Flag and White Ensign on the flagstaff in the treaty grounds. The ceremonies during the day generally include a church service and cultural displays such as dance and song.

The day closes with the flags being lowered by the Navy in a traditional ceremony.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand usually goes to the Waitangi Day Dawn service.

There are many special events all around New Zealand to celebrate Waitangi Day (New Zealand Day).

Throughout New Zealand, they celebrate Waitangi Day in a variety of ways. These often take the form of public concerts, festivals and exhibitions as this is the 175 anniversary of the Waitangi signing of the treaty there is sure to be some very active celebrations as it is a Friday and most likely will continue over the weekend.

Check out Google for Waitangi - New Zealand Day Celebrations for 2016

Prime Minister Helen Clark being welcomed onto Hoani Waititi Marae, in West Auckland, Waitangi Day 2006.
Prime Minister Helen Clark being welcomed onto Hoani Waititi Marae, in West Auckland, Waitangi Day 2006.

My Waitangi Day Thoughts

I'm proud to be a New Zealander, my ancestors Valentine Harrison (on my Father side) sailed from Plymouth, England in the ship "William Bryan" on November 19th, 1840 for New Plymouth, New Zealand with his two eldest sons William and Thomas.

They acquired land at Omata a about ten km's from New Plymouth on the west side of Mount Egmont/Taranaki, which they developed into farms, where they lived for the rest of their lives, except for a period during the Maori wars, when they had to abandon their homes which were destroyed by the Maoris, they paid for their land and broke it in as most of it was just bush.

I was amazed by the history I have discovered in my searches about how long my descendants have been part of this wonderful country. 175 years since they set foot in Taranaki which has been my home for nearly seventy years.

It would be nice to come together as a nation and appreciate what we have here in New Zealand "All People Equal" in this kiwi land called New Zealand, all we need to do is get over what has happened in the past and move on as United people.

New Zealand Day

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© 2015 Elsie Hagley


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