Waitangi Day

It is 175 years since the Treaty was signed at Waitangi on February 6th 1840. The Treaty was an agreement between Queen Victoria of Great Britain and the Maori chiefs. She promised them peace and order by making good laws. They would have the same rights as British people. The Queen also promised protection for all Maori and for their exclusive rights to their land, forests and fisheries. If they wanted to sell land, they had to sell it to a representative of the Queen.

The Treaty was written in English but there was a Maori translation which the chiefs signed. However, like all translations, there was some disagreement later about the words. What did ‘exclusive rights’ mean? Maori were angry that they were not treated fairly.

About 20 years after the signing of the Treaty, anger led to the Land Wars. British soldiers defeated Maori. As a result, the government took some Maori land as punishment and gave it to Europeans.

Now, the Waitangi Tribunal is trying to make a settlement with each tribe to compensate for land they lost. Most tribes have now settled but not all.

So for the past 40 years, Waitangi Day has been a day of protest as Maori and others shouted “Honour the Treaty”. They mean, “Remember the promises”. However, today it was mostly a peaceful day at Waitangi. The only protest was about deep-sea oil drilling off the coast of Northland.

Waitangi Day celebrations were held in most cities today. Wellington and Christchurch held concerts. At Waitangi, The Prime Minister and other politicians attended a dawn service. The navy held a parade and Maori paddled a large number of waka up to the beach.

Listen to February 6th 2014 and follow the links to earlier years to hear more about Waitangi Day.


• exclusive – only for Maori, not for other people
• defeated – soldiers won the war
• punishment – because they lost the war, they lost their land
• Waitangi Tribunal – a law court
• settlement (n) settled (v) – each tribe and the Tribunal agree about how much money
• compensate – a satisfactory payment to say sorry about their land
• dawn – sunrise
• waka (singular and plural) – Maori war canoes


  1. Hi there is a thing i would to ask,what is deep-sea oil drilling off the coast of the north land mean? And what is off the coast mean?

  2. “Off” the coast here means “not on” the coast. Drilling for oil is happening beyond the coast, some distance from the coast of Northland and people are worried because this is deep sea drilling which is more dangerous than drilling for oil in shallow water.

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