6 Feb 2014

Thousands attend Waitangi events

7:26 pm on 6 February 2014

The largest Waitangi Day celebration was in Porirua near Wellington where more than 30,000 people turned out in fine weather for the city's 23rd annual Waitangi celebrations.

Festival of the Elements chair Bob Cater says he's been with the festival since it started in 1991, and the Porirua festival has built a reputation for showing the way communities can come together in the spirit of the Treaty.

In Auckland, about 30,000 people attended a Waitangi festival at Barry Curtis Park in Flat Bush. Musicians including Sons of Zion and David Dallas entertained the crowd and hundreds of families enjoyed a range of food stalls, arts and craft markets and workshops.

Thousands also attended celebrations at Bastion Point, which got underway with a powhiri at Orakei marae on Thursday morning. Ngati Whatua o Orakei held a concert at Bastion Point featuring Dave Dobbyn and Katchafire, while Tiki Taane and Moana and the Tribe performed at the first-ever Muriwai Festival at the Muriwai Surf Club.

However, bad weather is being blamed for a drastic drop in crowd numbers at Waitangi. About 6000 people visited the grounds for the ceremonies marking when New Zealand's founding document was signed in 1840. The day traditionally attracts up to 30,000.

Day 'more than protests'

In Tauranga, Ngai Te Rangi chair Charlie Tawhiao wants Waitangi Day events it is involved in to teach local people that the national holiday is more than protests.

Mr Tawhiao says he hopes three events it had a hand in provided a fun day for whanau, as well as an opportunity to celebrate New Zealand's history.

The tribe participated in a dawn service organised by the local council at Mount Drury, also known as Hopukiore, and two community fairs later in the day.

Mr Tawhiao says many people may look upon the Waitangi Day as a day of protest and problems, but it's time to move forward and he wants the events to focus on what New Zealand as a nation has done well - not dwell on broken promises.

Several whanau fun days were held in the Waiariki region, including the Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust's annual festival, Whakanuia, which provided entertainment, crafts and kai.

Whanau fairs took place in Waikato and in Taupo, with bands, performing arts and food stalls to cater to about 3500 people.

Ngati Kahungunu in Hawke's Bay celebrated Waitangi Day with a whanau day in Hastings. Kahungunu Waitangi Day-the Big 9 has been running for 10 years and attracts people from throughout the province.

Nine events took place simultaneously, including Kai in the Bay, five different sports activities, a duathlon competition and the main event, the Kahungunu kapa haka regionals.

Organiser Narelle Huata says 13 groups performed in the kapa haka competitions and four of those roopu (groups) will represent the Takitimu rohe in Christchurch at Te Matatini festival next year.

She says the event is getting bigger every year because it focuses on whanaungatanga (being about family) and kahungunutanga (tribal identity).

Festival unites

In the South Taranaki township of Patea Paepae in the Park has been going for 11 years.

Event organiser Elaine Powell says the crowds are drawn to the live music and the festive atmosphere. Paepae in the Park has helped to unite people from all different backgrounds over the years, she says.


In Wellington, moko work was done at Te Papa in a special Waitangi Day show for the public. Two ta moko artists performed their craft on four kuia (women elders).

The museum says women are leading the revival of ta moko among Maniapoto-Tainui women.

They told their own stories and talked with artist Shane Te Ruki, who is also an expert in tikanga Maori

Christchurch and region

About 200 gathered at Rapaki Marae on Banks Peninsula for a special citizenship ceremony.

Twenty-five people from 11 countries became New Zealanders in front of Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, and family and friends. It is the third year the Christchurch City Council has run a citizenship ceremony on Waitangi Day.

Council civic and international relationships manager Duncan Sandeman says it is important for new citizens to experience a traditional Maori welcome on to a marae, especially on Waitangi Day.

Radio New Zealand spoke to several new citizens who said they specifically asked to be a part of the Waitangi Day ceremony and they want more to be held at marae.

People being welcomed onto Rapaki Marae on Banks Peninsula before a citizenship ceremony.

People being welcomed onto Rapaki Marae on Banks Peninsula before a citizenship ceremony. Photo: RNZ

Ngai Tahu festival near Dunedin

Relationships and family connections were the theme for Waitangi Day celebrations being marked by Ngai Tahu, with the tribe's annual festival this year hosted by Te Runanga o Otakou at Otakou Marae, near Dunedin.

The aim of the theme is to foster relationships within the iwi and the wider community.

The kaiwhakahaere (chair) of the tribal runanga, Mark Solomon, and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull spoke in a forum on contemporary Treaty of Waitangi partnerships and how they can support the economic aspirations of regional communities.

Each year the event alternates between the three locations where Ngai Tahu signed the Treaty: Te Rau Aroha Marae at Awarua (Bluff), Otakou Marae near Dunedin and Onuku Marae on Banks Peninsula.

Edward Ellison during the powhiri at Ngai Tahu Treaty of Waitangi festival at Otakou marae on Otago peninsula.

Edward Ellison during the powhiri at Ngai Tahu Treaty of Waitangi festival at Otakou marae on Otago peninsula. Photo: RNZ