Waitangi Day celebration spots

By Danielle Wright

Danielle Wright finds out what's on offer on New Zealand's most important public holiday

Waitangi Day is an important occasion for all New Zealanders. Photo / Natalie Slade
Waitangi Day is an important occasion for all New Zealanders. Photo / Natalie Slade

Waitangi Day commemorates the day, back in 1840, when representatives of the British Crown signed New Zealand's founding document with more than 500 Maori chiefs. The first Waitangi Day was in 1934, but it wasn't until 1974 that New Zealanders were given the day off to mark the occasion. Historically, it was seen as a date when Maori and Pakeha came together as "one people".

"It's a very political day with a significant history, but the day has also come to symbolise other conversations around unity, tolerance, community, family and understanding," says Nigel Borell, the Auckland Council's Kaiwhakahaere Toi-o-Manukau (Maori arts co-ordinator).

"It's our version of Australia Day, but better."

Toi-o-Manukau Waitangi Day Family Celebration
Barry Curtis Park, Chapel Rd, Flat Bush. February 6, 10am-5pm. Free entry and free rides.

In its 16th year, this event is the longest-standing and largest Waitangi Day commemoration outside Waitangi.

Expect music from Three Houses Down, Maisey Rika and Tama Waipara as well as Aaradhna, Pieter T, Awa and PNC. There will also be arts and crafts, food and children's rides.

Waitangi Day Festival
Bastion Pt, Orakei. Adults $20, kids $5 (5-17), 10am-6pm, on February 6.

For the first time in two decades, a concert will be held at Bastion Point, thanks to Ngati Whatua o Orakei, which owns the land. Acts such as Dave Dobbyn, Katchafire, Goodshirt, 1814 and Che Fu will perform against a backdrop of the Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto. There will also be kids' rides, food stalls and merchandise. As well as the musical celebrations, there will be visits to the Orakei Wharenui (meeting house) hosted by the local tangata whenua, kite flying for the children and moko artists.

Local kaumatua and leaders of the Bastion Pt occupation will be available for an historical perspective.

Waitangi Day Out West
Henderson Park, Wilsher Cres, Henderson. February 6, 2pm-6pm.

Auckland Council's free Music in Parks concert on Waitangi Day will feature Sola Rosa and Tahuna Breaks, at this alcohol-free event.

Papakura Waitangi Day Celebration
Papakura Marae, 29 Hunua Rd, Papakura, Sunday, February 3, from 9am. Free.

At 9am at the Papakura Marae tomorrow there will be a powhiri, followed by presentations, mau rakau demonstrations and entertainment at the Waitangi Day Celebration public event.

Manurewa Waitangi Day Celebrations
Mountfort Park, Manurewa, February 6, 11am-6pm. Free.

Manurewa Community Events Trust is hosting a free event featuring Sweet & Irie, Grind, Vibe, Maja Flava and Giant Killa, with children's activities, food and craft stalls.

Pukekohe Waitangi Day Celebration
Field 2, Pukekohe Rugby Grounds, Wednesday, February 6, 10am-3pm

The Huakina Development Trust is running a free Waitangi Day celebration, with performers of all ethnicities, with an overarching Maori presence, food and cultural stalls. If you are interested in being part of this event, contact Rob Hita on (09) 238 0250, or email robert@huakina.co.nz.

Cultural focus

* Visit the Treaty displays highlighting Auckland Libraries' extensive Maori collections and Treaty-related information, or take a Treaty-themed trail around the Auckland Museum - which is a self-directed tour to become familiar with the collections in Maori Court and their links to the Treaty - available free from the museum's information desks.

Further afield

* The Kawhia Kai Festival at Omiti Park Reserve is on today from 9am ($10 adults, $2 children under 12). Try Maori delicacies and listen to live music headlined by reggae group Darky Roots. There will also be weavers, wood-carving, kapa haka and Maori arts and crafts stalls. You can feast on seafood, wild game, and even mud snails.

* In Rotorua, Whakarewarewa Thermal Village is holding its annual Whakanuia, translated as "to acknowledge, promote and celebrate". As well as promoting Maori culture, the day will focus on one other culture each year. This year the Americas is the chosen culture. Arts and crafts, entertainment, village tours and three Maori cultural performances will be offered during the day.

* At Waitangi on February 6, there will be a dawn service and flag-raising ceremony in the Treaty Grounds, plus cultural displays and an aerobatic display by the New Zealand Air Force Red Chequers. At 10.30am a church service will be held at the waka shelter. There will also be entertainment - everything from hip-hop to the navy band. Up to 20 waka will also be on the water throughout the day.

- NZ Herald

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