2 Feb 2009

Waitangi organisers prepare for record crowds

3:12 pm on 2 February 2009

Organisers of Waitangi Day events in the Bay of Islands are predicting crowd numbers could top 50,000 this year.

Waitangi National Trust chief executive Jeanette Richardson said visitor numbers have risen sharply over the last five years, peaking at 46,000.

She said forecast fine weather on Friday is likely to draw record crowds to the commemorations, and organisers have planned accordingly.

Ms Richardson said new traffic and parking systems are in place and a ferry service and shuttle buses will take visitors to the Treaty Grounds.

The Waitangi Festival this year includes free concerts by popular New Zealand artists including the Roger Fox Big Band.

A larger than usual waka fleet is also expected. Tainui will bring several canoes from the Waikato to mark the first Waitangi Day visit by the Maori King, Tuheitia.