Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day is on Monday. It is a day for all New Zealanders to remember the Treaty of Waitangi which was signed between Maori and Queen Victoria on February 6, 1840. There were two versions of this treaty – one in English and one in Maori. As always with translations, there are some things which are impossible to translate exactly. Maori did not believe they were signing away their rights to gather food from traditional places like the forest, rivers, lakes and the sea. Nor did they believe they would lose most of their land.

So Waitangi Day is often a day of protest where people, Maori and Pakeha, have protest banners saying, “Honour the Treaty”. There have been unpleasant scenes at Waitangi in the past where people have thrown mud at politicians. On the other hand, it is usually a family day with entertainment and market stalls.

The day before Waitangi Day, February 5th, the Prime Minister is often invited to attend Te Tii marae This year our Prime Minister was invited but was told he could not speak at the powhiri. For that reason, he declined to attend and said he would celebrate Waitangi Day in Auckland. He also said that the treaty was signed in many places around the country so he thought it would be a good idea for politicians to attend Waitangi celebrations elsewhere in future, not at Waitangi.

Today, the new Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, was welcomed at Te Tii marae. However, Marae officials would not allow the media to attend without paying. They offered TV1 exclusive rights to film for a payment of $10,000. TV1 declined the offer.


• versions – different words
• sign away – to agree that they would lose these rights
• Pakeha – ‘stranger’, non-Maori
• banners – signs
• honour – remember what was promised and do it
• powhiri – Maori welcome
• declined – said ‘No’
• elsewhere – in another place
• exclusive rights – the only one, no other TV, radio or newspaper would have the right to attend

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