Attending Waitangi Day celebrations AT Waitangi is a must-go-to event for all Kiwi.
I hear some people say it’s all protests and activism: my experience from spending 4 days in the Bay of Island’s earlier this year shows this is a false view that unfortunately is perpetuated by the mainstream news media.
What I observed was families, tourists, kiwis, groups, and just people all having a great time. It was a combo of ceremony; navy, politicians, music; opera, jazz, blues, soul, Maori Cultural shows, stalls, side shows, and of course the gathering of the ceremonial waka. These events happen over four sites (which border each other) Treaty Grounds, Waitangi National Reserve, Te Tii Marae grounds, and the beach across the road – Te Ti Bay.
And as for the proof-of-a-democracy protests: if you want to avoid them, don’t be on the one lane bridge at 130pm on the 6th Feb. For me – wished I had been able to get some photos of the annual protests … but I was too busy watching the waka and missed them all!
Here are just 75 photos (from the 5000 I took in my 2 weeks in Northland) that just give a little taste of the fabulous day – I recommend you book your accommodation early.
See some Utube re Waitangi here
One of the motivators for my 2012 road trip around Northland was to revisit the birthplace of New Zealand – the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – and in particular be there for our annual public holiday (Waitangi Day, 6th Feb.) that commemorates the 1840 event: but more of the celebrations in a later bog.
The house is not only historic and beautiful, but is set in lush native bush and has guided tours and cultural performances night and day. It’s been some years since I visited and my memory of walking up a grassy slope to a white house alone on the top of the small rise, and with the flagpole, is now presenting a different picture: the house and flag pole are still there but the (mostly) native trees have grown, and it was through this bush and forest, with its birdsong, I now walked.
There are many guided tours and activities including “Introducing the Birthplace of our Nation” through to a fun workshop with our native flax, and “Living with Nature’ which explores New Zealand’s native plants and trees and their relationship to Maori legend.
Naturally, there are Maori cultural performances during the day, and in the evening, a twilight show which can include a buffet dinner.
New Zealand residents have free access to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, while visitors’ tickets last 2 consecutive days. Open all year (closed Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm, the off-peak season is from April to October so check the website for actual dates each year.
NOTE: For more information about Northland check the official tourism website and to hire a rental car in Auckland I can recommend the company I use: Rental Cars NZ.
For more about New Zealand and our ‘treaty’ and national day, see our history encyclopedia website Te Ara