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  • Day57

    Waitangi Day - February 6

    February 5, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Waitangi Day is New Zealand's national day. It is a holiday held annually on February 6th to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - New Zealand's founding document - on February 6th 1840.

    The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British citizens.

    In February 1840, the Ngāpuhi, the largest Maori tribe, hosted around 10,000 Maori to debate the agreement for several days. On February 6th, a treaty was signed by around 40 Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown at the Treaty House on the Waitangi grounds.The treaty was subsequently signed by another 500 Māori chiefs in various locations throughout the country.

    The ceremonies started at daybreak ( 5 a.m.), with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, serving breakfast at 6 a.m.

    We didn’t go at daybreak, but got to the Treaty Grounds at around 9 a.m., the perfect time before the crowds started to arrive. We parked in a farmer’s field and then a shuttle bus took us to the historic site.

    We especially liked the meeting house. In Māori culture, meeting houses are symbols of tribal prestige and are often named after, and seen as the embodiment of, a tribal ancestor. This structure is seen an an outstretched body, with the roof’s v shape at the front of the house representing the ancestor’s head. The main ridge beam represents the backbone, the diagonal boards that lead out from the roof are the arms and the lower ends of the boards divide to represent fingers. Inside, the centre pole is seen as the heart, the rafters reflect the ancestor’s ribs, and the interior is the ancestor’s chest and stomach. Neat!

    The carvings in the house were amazing and a little frightening.

    I wouldn’t go into all the details about what we did but it was a very pleasant morning. A flypast of fighter jets thrilled us, followed by a 21 gun salute by the HMNZS WELLINGTON marking the 68th Anniversary of the Queen’s Accession to the throne.

    A woman told us to head to the harbour where Maori war canoes would circle the harbour in a whirlpool formation. We watched a huge waka taua (war canoe), 35 m and 6 tons, make its annual outing. It was carved from a giant Kauri logs and can hold about 100 people, 80 of whom are rowers!!!!

    The food/craft tents were awesome and so were the performances (songs and haka, fierce war dances, on the main stage. A bit scary...

    All in all, it was a great morning and we had a lot of fun in the sun!
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