New Zealand

Waitangi Day

We, as in us New Zealanders are not always known to feel comfortable singing our praises.  Though there’s one day a year when it’s not just acceptable, we are expected, to do just that.

February 6 this year marks the 179th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi).

This “special” day is a public holiday, with most viewing it as just that, a day off work.

Canoes and yacht

With the perfect excuse to indulge in everything, we love most about New Zealand, from our beaches and parks to our arts, culture and delicious variety of food [kai].  All over the country, there are celebrations with the more official one located at the site where it all began. 


Then there is the other side of this National Day off – Waitangi Day.

At school, I learned about the basics of both the Maori and Pakeha perspectives on our history.

Most of my growing up years were within the Bay of Plenty.  This area, having a substantial Maori population, which in turn meant we had some influence from the local Marae and Maori culture within our schooling system.

The importance of Maori and other cultures has changed dramatically within our schooling system.  Thankfully, for the betterment of learning about and acceptance of other cultures.  But like with most school systems it is far from perfect.

At the beginning of my schooling years, there seemed a balance between the two histories.  During chats with others outside the schooling system is where I started to learn more of the Maori perspective on that same history.  There was indeed more significant and profound variations in the interpretations of historical events.

Even significant events, such as Te Kooti’s foray into Poverty Bay and the tragic attack on the community at Matawhero near Gisborne, were seen by the two sides as different as chalk and cheese.

Part of my Whakapapa [family history] originates from the region of Poverty Bay. 

I had a Pakeha working class upbringing that mostly allowed me to view, learn and accept (or not) the various viewpoints and to view history accordingly.

For most of my young adult years, I avoided this controversy as most years I was living overseas.  Though I found the Treaty of Waitangi to be more about the politicians and activists.  For me, it was still a continued source of confusion, contradictory opinions and rhetoric.

The Maori Flag - Flag of Independance

Years later while studying to be a teacher in a tertiary institution that leaned heavily towards the Maori interpretation made it any easier for me to come to terms with both the Maori and the Pakeha side of events.

The New Zealand Flag

Treaty of Waitangi document
Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) – Photo credit NZ Archives

For many, the above document is seen as New Zealand’s founding document. 

Does it still have to be a vehicle for more angst in the form of protests, anger as seen in previous years and less so about inclusion or unity?.  

One thing is for sure it is more than just a cringe-worthy melee in which the media loves and probably encourages.  I think Waitangi Day, or at least the idea of a special commemorative day, should continue. Perhaps not in its current format.  

Isn’t it time that we as a country re-think how we celebrate this day at Waitangi?.

Going by last years Waitangi Day and the visit from our current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern we may have the beginnings of change. 

A movement of Aroha [love]?.

The beginning of a special, reflective and non-confrontational event on the Treaty Grounds.

Would we have a day that would be focussed on celebrating of our unity, our minds and souls pointed to the future?

I say make it a day about the people, a stronger focus on the future and still acknowledging our collective views of the past with respect.

He aha te mea Nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He Tangata, he Tangata, he Tangata

It is the people; it is the people, it is the people

Maori proverb


Links for further reading:


A brief history of The Treaty of Waitangi

Maori Law Review – The Meaning and Purpose of the Treaty of Waitangi

Waitangi Tribunal

The Beehive – The Prime Minister

Prime Minister – 2018 Waitangi Day Celebrations

Waitangi Day


34 thoughts on “Waitangi Day”

  1. So very interesting Suzanne however I confess to knowing very little about NZ history. But I do agree that we need to learn from the past and focus on the future if we’re to live in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agree that we learn from the past to go forward in a positive direction. Though we humans have not done that justice of far.
      As they say, the next generations turn! We need leaders/orators with a good mandate!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting post Suz! I learnt something from reading this and am glad this history is taught in NZ schools. Living in harmony is something we should all aspire to, no matter where we live! Have pinned and shared for #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s still the 6th here, Suzanne, but I’m probably too late to wish you happy Waitangi Day! I hope you had a peaceful one. I agree that it’s time to let the past go and look to the future. Who in this world of ours has an unblemished history? 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, my Waitangi Day was a good one, as I went tramping into the bush. A wonderful time and a day of learning more about the local area. My new boots did me proud not one blister in sight!! Today is a rest day.
      Jo, I also, can’t think of one country that has an unblemished history.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That was really interesting Suzanne – I’d never heard of Waitangi Day (and I live not that far from NZ!) So much cultural history and great to see it being celebrated rather than argued over (like it is here in Australia)Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, as previously stated, it’s not surprising that you don’t know about it. It is not overly talked about in the media or within other schooling curriculum, and, even NZ.


    1. Thanks for sharing that Natalie, one of the reasons for writing up this post was to highlight The Treaty as most people are not aware of it or know what is written in it. That includes New Zealanders as well!


  5. I always had a passion for learning about history but have to confess to not knowing much about NZ history – you’ve helped me there with this post, Suzanne: thank you! And I love the Maori proverb – absolutely right!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sam, as I mentioned to Sam. Even NZers don’t all know about it!! They are trying to include it in schools as a compulsory subject. It’s Waitangi day empty chatter. The cynic in me says “Yeah right”.


  6. I didn’t know about any of this Suzanne, (although, I suppose as an English, Yorkshire lass, how would I?) I love to learn about history, this is so interesting. We have to wonder how much of what we are told is the actual truth. Such a good post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sam, even some New Zealanders don’t know exactly what it’s all about. Let alone a young Yorkshire lass. The biggest problem was the translation from Maori to English. Some words the translator should have know the significance of the land to the Maori people. Hindsight sight is a wonderful thing!!


  7. History and religion… it is such a shame that those who can choose to be selective in how much and what children are taught and how much is preserved for future generations…Much history is lost this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This reminds me of learning the Maori Stick Song, E papä wairi when I was a Girl Guide doing my Commonwealth Badge. I imagine I have an exceptionally clinical and heavily censored understanding of NZ – or as they’d say here, I know sweet FA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I remember doing the stick song when I was about 12 – 14 years. I also remember I kept getting out of rhythm! Living near so many other countries learning Maori would not have been a priority or a necessity. Many N.Z.ers think the same now as it’s a language that is not spoken anywhere else. I wish I was a natural at learning languages. Oral communication is not one of my strengths!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nor me! And I feel the same, I’d like to know both Irish and/or Scots. There is more to language than vocabulary. Celtic languages are very descriptive, you have to think differently to speak fluently and I think that challenge is why Ireland may have so many storytellers.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The treaty papers were taken around the country to be signed, though many did not agree to it. It was then taken back to Waitangi where it was signed by The Crown and the Maori representatives. It is a very complex issue and I am relucant to comment too much as I can’t remember as many of the details as I used to be able to do!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The powerful have always written the history books. We have the same issue here with the Native American culture… what I learned in school was not necessarily the full truth. Fortunately, as you said, things are starting to change and Waitangi Day sounds like a good opportunity to educate the public and reflect on your history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When we visited New York and down New Orleans way, we couldn’t find any information regarding the history of the Native American. I found that really sad. Though it could have been down to me not researching enough to find an art gallery or museum that featured their art and history. In New Zealand, the tangata whenua is very much acknowledged throughout the country, maybe not as much as some people would like it to be.


  10. After reading this post, it seems that NZ taught much more of its history than Australia did (not sure about does).

    We learnt barely anything about Aboriginal history. Tragic really as had we learnt more, then maybe a higher percentage of Australians would empathise with what the owners of our land endured.

    Australia has an awful history.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, unfortunately Australia has not acknowledged their tangata whenua [original people of the land] in a fair and just way. Having said that, there are people that do so and hopefully over time there will be more. In New Zealand we are more integrated. After all our travels there is no such thing as a perfect society in any country. We all have a long way to go to totally live in harmony.

      Liked by 3 people

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