Celebrations at Waitangi

Today is Waitangi Day and thousands of people celebrated at Waitangi. Prime Minister, Bill English, chose to celebrate with Ngati Whatua iwi in Auckland because he was not allowed to speak at the lower marae the day before.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Paula Bennett, attended Waitangi and took part in the dawn service which began at 5am. This religious service is traditional on Waitangi Day and is held in the beautiful carved meeting house. Many other politicians attended like Andrew Little, Leader of the Opposition.

The dawn service was followed by the raising of the flag ceremony. Later in the day there were performances by the navy band and other music groups, kapahaka groups and dance groups. The waka which is the world’s largest ceremonial canoe, was launched into the water around midday. This 35m waka was paddled across the harbour to Russell, with 70 paddlers. It was an impressive sight.

The weather was perfect, and a large crowd of people enjoyed the entertainment.

Although Waitangi Day was celebrated in many places around New Zealand today, the main celebrations will probably always be at Waitangi because that is where the 1840 treaty was signed. That is the place of the Treaty House and garden, the Visitor Centre, the Maori meeting house, the famous waka and the flagpole.

If you have never been there, it is worth a visit.

Note: Waitangi is in the Bay of Islands, Northland, about 3 hours by car from Auckland. It is situated very near Paihia and a short distance across the harbour from Russell.


• iwi (n) – tribe
• kapahaka (adj and n) – Maori performance group
• ceremonial (adj) – used for special ceremonies; not used often
• launched (v) – put into the water, started (used for boats or some new plan)
• impressive (adj) – something wonderful to remember

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