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words by ben stephens
As the national day of celebration is almost upon us, it’s time to look back on what it means to the everyday kiwi and a look at how the capital will be celebrating the best day of the year, Waitangi Day.
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Lets cast our minds back to February 6, 1840, it was a clear day up in The Bay of Islands – Ahh those blissful lands. Governor Hobson had planned to sign the treaty on the February 7, but 45 chiefs were ready to sign it a day early. Fun fact: the official painting of the treaty has Hobson in his full navy get up, due to the rush on signing the treaty, he was actually in his dressing gown with no hat.
Throughout all of this, there were a number of tribal groups that refused to sign and there is a clear difference in the English written treaty, to that of the Maori one.
Hobson was the first of the British signatories, with Hone Heke being the first of the Maori chiefs to sign. As each chief signed, Hobson was heard to say ‘He iei tahi tatou’ meaning ‘We are now one people’.
After the signing, a total of 50 meetings across the north island were had and a further 500 signatures were added to the treaty. On November 16, 1840, New Zealand was proclaimed sovereign from New South Wales.
Today, February 6 commemorates a significant day in New Zealand history of the signing of the first founding document of the nation.
So it’s time to celebrate, right?
If you’re around the capital this Waitangi Day, be around Waitangi Park down near the Wellington Waterfront come 12 noon for a whole day of celebrations for Te Ra o Waitangi!
Starting with an opening blessing by Mana Whenua, a welcome speech by Mayor Justin Lester and Kapa Haka, followed by a whole host of music and food. The two things that really bring the fine nation together.
Wherever you find yourself this Waitangi Day, from everyone here at QT Museum Wellington, we hope you have a fantastic day!
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