Anniversary Days

Monday 19th January is Anniversary Day for Wellington and Southland. Each province has an Anniversary Day holiday to remember the day that the first Europeans arrived there to settle and live there. In Southland, the Anniversary is a celebration of when this province became independent from Otago province.

The first ship from England bringing new settlers to live in Wellington arrived on 22nd January 1840. It was a sailing ship called the ‘Aurora’. The passengers were brought to Wellington by the New Zealand Company which planned settlements in New Zealand. The ship landed at Petone which was originally going to be the site for a town. However, in March that year, the Hutt River flooded Petone so the town was moved to Thorndon in what is now Wellington city. The town was named after Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. Wellington now celebrates Anniversary Day with a horse racing and wine carnival, as well as many other events for local people to enjoy.

Most provinces hold their Anniversary Day on a Monday to give workers a three-day weekend. However, Hawkes Bay has their Anniversary Day on the Friday before Labour Day which gives workers a four-day weekend. Canterbury moved their original Anniversary Day from December 16th which business people felt was too close to Christmas and could affect Christmas shopping.
Canterbury Anniversary Day is now celebrated as Show Day, on a Friday in mid-November. The A and P Show is a time when the farmers come to town. City people go to the Show to see farm animals and find out about rural New Zealand.

Auckland Anniversary Day is 26th January this year. Auckland always has a yacht regatta on this weekend. There are races for yachts of all sizes and sailors of all ages. Auckland’s anniversary is a reminder of when New Zealand first became a British colony, with the arrival of William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand. He named the town after the George Eden, the first Earl of Auckland.

The New Zealand Company was formed by an Englishman, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, in 1839, with the idea of helping people to emigrate from England and buy cheap land in New Zealand. The Company sent emigrants to Wellington, Nelson, Wanganui and Dunedin. Wakefield bought land from some Maori, using guns, soap, iron pots, axes, fish hooks, clothes and other items as payment. When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6th 1840, Maori could only sell their land to the Crown, which meant to the government. Soon, the New Zealand Company had financial problems and that brought the end of the Company.

For dates of public holidays, go to: